FIC Blog

We believe in – and live by – a philosophy of excellence.

Average is not good enough … Our goal at Family Investment Center is excellence. We find excellent investment products and supervise an excellent service package. We maintain a library of excellent research materials and financial planning resources. We also demand top safety and security for our clients.

We won’t settle for average. We continually seek top managers or securities and meld them into superior custom portfolios. Each palette of investments is carefully tailored to personal or family goals. We enlist excellent managers, research, resources, and effort for our clients. Don’t settle for average. You deserve excellence.

Please search our blog posts for answers to common investment questions, and we look forward to sharing our knowledge and experience with you first-hand.

How You Get Financial Advice Will Change in the Future

Family Investment Center’s Salmen Talks About Financial Advice and a New Rule

 

The debate around a fiduciary rule is heating up again, which means you’re going to see more about the Certified Financial Planner® (CFP) Board of Standards as its Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct reaches new areas. Also called the fiduciary standard, it’s been widely debated since the Department of Labor created a controversial rule in 2016 that could impact financial advice given by professionals.

Richard Salmen, president of Family Investment Center, is also the 2018 Chair of the CFP® Board of Directors, which means he’s often in high demand as a source for news articles on various financial/investment topics. He was quoted recently in two articles, one in the Chicago Tribuneand the other in Barron’s.

The CFP® voted that the 80,000 CFPs in the United States would have to follow the new fiduciary rule beginning in October 2019. The current standards say that CFP®s only have to follow the fiduciary standard when offering financial planning services. However, in October of next year, they’ll have to act as fiduciaries whenever they’re giving any type of financial advice.

“This is a monumental step forward in the evolution of not just CFP® certification,” Salmen told Barron’s, “but for the profession of financial planning.”

Many investment businesses have already made sweeping changes to comply with the fiduciary rule, some brought lawsuits saying the labor department had overreached in establishing the new rule. The Securities and Exchange Commission is proposing its own fiduciary rule, which willaffect retirement and non-retirement accounts.

Despite rumblings and rumors, the CFP® board decided to take action and not leave anything to question.

“We are raising the bar even higher now with a fiduciary standard that will apply anytime a CFP® professional gives financial advice,” Salmen told the Chicago Tribune.

The debate began following a White House report (Obama Administration) outlining how conflicted advice from investment advisors costs investors billions of dollars per year. However, for those, like Family Investment Center that have always operated as fiduciaries, the new rule only solidifies the way in which they’ve always practiced their profession.

The change in administrations at the White House has caused some back and forth. The Trump administration delayed implementing the Department of Labor fiduciary rule until July 2019.

“For those who want to avoid conflicted advice from investment professionals, always ask if they are held to the fiduciary standard. Make sure there are no hidden fees or commissions to be made off products they recommend,” says Salmen.

At Family Investment Center, we’ve operated as fiduciaries since day one. Contact us today and let’s plan your future.

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How Does the Fiduciary Rule Affect How You Plan for Retirement?

Hint: The Fiduciary Rule is Set to Protect Investors

 

After a delay by the Department of Labor in calling into action a new fiduciary rule, investors need to know that it is now in effect and could affect the way they plan for retirement.

Investors currently have nearly $8 trillion in IRAs, and the new rule looks to protect that money. This almost did not come through as the new executive administration called for the Department of  Labor (DOL) to review regulations and prepare an updated analysis regarding economics and legal areas surrounding this rule, which covers IRAs and 401(k)s. The administration also sought public input regarding new exemptions or changes to the regulatory portion of the rule.

However, as of June 9, 2017, the rule is in effect. So, what does this mean, exactly, for the everyday investor? First and foremost, the rule seeks to protect investors from getting conflicted advice from financial advisors. Brokers and investment advisors are now required to act as fiduciaries, putting their clients’ best interests first.

All financial advisors will be required to comply with the rule’s impartial conduct standard, which should help protect billions of dollars worth of investments. According to a 2015 report from the White House, that’s how much is at risk with conflicted advice from advisors who have something personal to gain from selling various products.

The response from the industry has been everywhere from panic to acceptance. Many firms make a lot of money off their former business model, which involved taking commissions on various products they sold to investors. For example, many have adopted new models that involve mutual funds that exclude various fees.

Does this mean that all investors are no longer going to be subjected to investment advice more motivated by profit for the advisor than for themselves? It does not. Investors need to take a little time and look into who is managing their finances. The first question they should ask of prospective advisors is if they are a fiduciary.


Ask them how they are paid for the work they do for you. Are they taking an hourly fee or just a percentage based on your overall portfolio? You need to make sure they’re not taking a commission, or you could be one of the many who are receiving conflicted advice that costs you money.

At Family Investment Center, we have operated as a fiduciary from day one. Our relationships have always been on solid footing because our clients come first, not commissions. When our clients do well, so do we. Let’s start planning your financial future in our truly commission-free and client-focused environment.

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Survey Shows What Americans Have to Say About Working With an Investment Advisor

Those Working With an Investment Advisor Have a Better Understanding of Financial Terms and Concepts

 

When it comes to working with an investment advisor, many Americans say that they feel they don’t need to work with an advisor. Getting to the reasons behind this decision, respondents in a recent survey from Plan Adviser were asked why they preferred not to work with an investment advisor and 44 percent responded that their assets didn’t warrant any planning.

 

Among the respondents that reported not having enough assets to bother with an investment advisor, 28 percent had an income of at least $75,000 a year. These individuals could see many benefits by working with an advisor and planning for their financial future.

 

Overall, those Americans that reported working with an investment advisor were more comfortable with their understanding of financial terms, including “long-term care insurance”, “Roth IRAs,” and “annuities.” Among those respondents that were working with an investment advisor, there was a high rate of confidence that they understood these terms, at a rate of 41 percent, 69 percent and 49 percent, respectively.

 

For those not working with an investment advisor, there was a significantly lower level of comfort with financial terms. Using those same terms, only 31 percent felt confident they understood the term “long-term care insurance,” 42 percent understood “Roth IRAs” and 28 percent understood “annuities.”

 

Of those who did not have an investment advisor, the reasons were varied. As noted above, many didn’t feel that they had the kinds of assets that warrant seeking out a professional opinion. Still others said they preferred to manage their own finances (38 percent) or felt that an investment advisor would cost too much (36 percent). Some don’t know what kind of professional to hire (14 percent) or don’t understand the value of engaging these types of services (10 percent).

 

Yet in addition to the value of having an investment advisor help you plan for your future and work with you in creating a strategic investment plan, working with an investment advisor positively affects other aspects of your financial life outside of your investment or retirement planning. For instance, those that hired an investment advisor were also more likely to have an emergency fund and a retirement plan. Seventy-seven percent of those working with an investment advisor had an emergency fund or a retirement plan, versus 46 percent of those that had never worked with an investment advisor.

 

If you’re looking for ways to take some of the guesswork and the emotions out of your investment future, make an appointment with an advisor at Family Investment Center. We can take a look at your current financial picture and help you develop a plan in a client-first, commission-free setting.

 

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3 Ways Your Mind Tricks You Out of Building Wealth

Solid Strategies for Building Wealth ... Avoid These Mental Pitfalls

 

Careful and diligent planning over time is a reliable strategy for building wealth, but did you know that your mind may be working against you and your long-term plans? There are a number of mistakes that people make in their financial decisions that can throw off their wealth strategies. Here’s a quick guide to ways that your mind can trick you into making poor financial decisions:

 

Anchoring: Don’t fall into the trap of relying too much on the first piece of information you learn about something. For instance, pretend you are interested in hiring a housecleaning service and you begin to call around to check rates. The first company you call quotes you $75 per hour. The second company gives you a rate of $90 per hour.

 

You may dismiss the second company because they are charging $15 more per hour and go with the first company instead. In fact, though, the going rate in your community is $60 per hour, but you overpaid because of the anchoring fallacy.

 

How do you get past anchoring if you don’t have endless hours to call cleaning companies and compare every rate out there? Some experts recommend that, instead of trying to get a true average rate, you estimate how many hours you’d have to work to cover the cost of a service or product, or what else you will have to give up to purchase it. This might help you get a truer sense of your cost.

 

One particularly strong anchor in investing is a stock’s price. Investors tend to keep their purchase price at the forefront when making trading decisions. For example, if you buy a stock at $10 per share and it’s currently trading at $8 per share, you may hesitate selling the stock because it’s lower than your initial purchase price. But what if the stock was overvalued when you bought it? Anchoring is often responsible for investors selling winners too soon or holding losers for too long.

 

Availability Heuristic: In this financial misstep, you pay more attention to more publicized events over those that are most likely to actually happen. For instance, you may have an outsized anticipation of winning the lottery because instances of lottery winners shown on the news stand out in your mind.

 

This concept carries over to other areas in life, too. You may have sweated a little on a trans-Atlantic flight, but probably not on your drive to the grocery store. Despite the fact that traffic accidents are far more likely than a plane crash, you brain latches on to news stories you’ve seen about flights that ended in crisis.

 

Likewise, an investor tends to overreact to the “talking heads” on the radio or television who warn of doom and gloom in the markets.

 

Hedonic Adaptation: When you purchase something new, you often feel a rush of satisfaction and excitement. In some cases, such as with a new car or a dream home, you may feel unable to contain yourself as you bask in the glow of acquisition. Even a new pair of shoes or a weekend trip can make you feel like you could never ask for anything more.

 

The trouble is, you always do, and it’s keeping you from building wealth. The hedonic adaptation principle says that no acquisition is capable of satisfying you forever. What’s more, you become less willing to go back to your previous lifestyle, even though your new purchase isn’t satisfying you like it did when it was new.

Overconfidence: Overestimating your own ability, at choosing investments, for example, can be detrimental to your financial strategy. If you don’t have the time, expertise and experience to handle an investment portfolio, consider hiring an investment advisor to help.

 

Hindsight: We’ve all heard it: “hindsight is 20/20.”  When analyzing past events, it’s easy to hinge on information that hadn’t been available at the time, believing that the event was predictable (and perhaps preventable) when it really wasn’t. For example, after a stock market crash, you suddenly think of many reasons why youshould have adjusted your portfolio more conservatively, when in reality, there was no way of knowing it was coming. (Interestingly, hindsight can lead to overconfidence, as well.)

 

Building wealth over time takes a lot of discipline, but it also takes an awareness of the tricks your mind might play on you as you make financial decisions. No matter how solid your wealth strategies are, be careful that you aren’t derailing your goals by buying into these fallacies.

 

To learn more practical ways to think about building wealth, make an appointment to talk with the advisors at Family Investment Center. Always commission-free and client-focused, we help you develop strategies that are clear-minded and designed to help you plan for a solid future.

 

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Keeping an Eye on Fees in Portfolio Management

Do You Know What to Look for in Portfolio Management Fees?

 

portfolio managementThe Beatles said in their hit song, “Money,” that the “best things in life are free,” and they definitely have a point. However, when it comes to managing your money, paying fees to a portfolio management professional can help that money grow, and it’s certainly worth it.

However, due to industry complexities and varying degrees of customer “service,” investment management fees can often be obscure. This can lead to mistrust and poor decisions on behalf of the investors. While the most trustworthy investment advisors use fee structures that are completely transparent, following the tips in a “fee triangle” can assist you in understanding exactly what you’re paying for.

Don't be the victim of unfair or elevated pricing schemes. You can avoid this by shining the light in the right places.

Layer 1
The first layer of fees is often tied to local investment management fees. This is usually a percentage of the portfolio size, AKA assets under management or AUM. Your investment advisor, broker, bank, or trust company or department will charge this first layer of fees.

Layer 2
Portfolio manager fees are the second layer, and although they’re the most common, they’re often less obvious. These are fees that the underlying managers of the mutual funds, hedge funds, exchange traded funds, unit trusts, REITs and other managed products charge to manage the fund. It’s how the manager of the underlying investment is paid.  Although it’s difficult to rid your portfolio of these altogether (unless you buy only individual stocks), your advisor should aim to find investments that minimize your expenses while maximizing your investment potential.  

Layer 3
Transaction fees are the most insidious of all these fees, which are often hidden from you in trades. For instance, if you buy a thousand shares of stock, a trade fee or commission may be paid on that trade, which should be reported on a trade confirmation. However, you may not see it if your custodian reports the trade at “net” prices. Even scarier is that there is often a huge disparity among the level of transaction fees that are charged to clients.

Not all investment portfolios will include all three fees. Some might only have one or two. A stockbroker might have a recommendation for you, and if you follow through on that, they will take their payment through a commission. If a mutual fund is recommended, there could be a sales commission involved, as well as ongoing portfolio manager fees, which means you could be getting hit with all three layers of fees.

Remember - it’s the total fees that matter to performance, not the particular fee scheme. Investment performance should be tied to broad market averages, not individual stocks and bonds. There are too many instances out there today where investors are getting hammered by layered fees, most often in the hidden fees.

At Family Investment Center, we remain totally transparent about our fee structure and communicate it clearly. We never take a commission – the only way we get paid is through a percentage of assets under management. That way, there’s a direct incentive for us to keep clients’ expenses low and their balances growing over time. We follow core investment principles and practices that go above and beyond the definition of a fiduciary. Contact us today and let’s discuss how we approach portfolio management differently.

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Can Investment Advisors Really Help You Utilize Investment Tools Wisely?

Why Fiduciaries are Looking Out for Your Investments … and Your Future

 

Money. It’s a lot of things, but most importantly, it’s a tool. When it comes to investments, money is a tool that helps people reach their goals. Maybe that goal is to have freedom in retirement, or to go to school, or to travel. Perhaps money is the tool that assists a family legacy. Regardless of the goal, making smart investment decisions can leverage your tools and make those goals a reality.

The investment process can be made difficult by the massive volume of information available today through sources that include television, books, magazines and the Internet. Sorting through all of it can lead to confusion andpoor decision making that can have a negative impact on investments and end goals, which is why it truly pays to have an expert on your side in the form of a fiduciary.

A good investment advisor will explain these complexities in layers, presenting the easiest-to-absorb information first. Some investors are more comfortable taking a hands-off approach and letting their advisor take control. Others have a more vested interest and want to drill down on specifics, which often require a custom dashboard that simplifies the important and complex points.

Dan Danford, CEO of Family Investment Center, is often quoted as saying his firm can provide as much depth as a client wants.

“I’m glad to answer questions and provide detail,” Danford said. “However, just because we follow all the details doesn’t mean clients need or want all that information to get to their goals. We tailor our conversations toward each individual’s preferences. A fiduciary can follow a client’s path through life; looking out for their best interests and helping them achieve their goals along the way.”

For an investment advisor operating as a fiduciary, these end goals might include establishing a fund for a child’s college account, for example. Ultimately, the child graduates from college utilizing that fund, and go on to establish a career and perhaps even begins to save for their own child’s college fund.


Danford says investment advisors feel a special kind of attachment when their client reaches their goals. The relationship that a good investment advisory team forms with a client and their family can span for years – and is often marked by life events and milestones along the journey.

“There is a wonderful sense of friendship and camaraderie among our team and the clients we help,” he says. “In that regard, our clients’ stories, their phone calls, or visits to our office remind us that we are creating brighter futures for families each day.”

Additionally, Danford seeks to remind investors that fiduciaries offer their services based on fees only -  not commissions. This allows them to truly focus on the outcomes of the client’s portfolio, rather than their own benefit. This is especially important today when pending national industry changes mean many firms will say they are client-focused  - but may not have true experience in this area. (Note: A 2015 report from the White House and Department of Labor indicates investors lose roughly $17 billion a year due to brokers offering conflicted advice. Read more about the report here.)

 

At Family Investment Center, we have always operated as a fiduciary and always in a commission-free, jargon-free and client-focused setting. Schedule a meeting with us today.

 

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With the Inauguration Pending, What are Your Investing Strategies Now?

Investing Strategies in a Time of Uncertainty

 

The election is officially over and inauguration is just weeks away. Many Americans were surprised at the results as our nation begins a journey with a controversial president. Many investors are beginning to take a second or third look at their investing strategies and preparing for this change.

Actually, many investment professionals may share the viewpoint to stay the course and not change investment portfolios in any drastic way. Refraining from reacting impulsively — while maintaining a focus on your long-term retirement investment plan — may help lead you toward new confidence as presidential changes officially unfold.  Note: While analysts seemed wrong about the predicted election outcome, U.S. economic strength was actually improving leading up to the vote.  Policies and changes to come, say some analysts, could actually lead to even more economic growth. If this trend continues into 2017, investment options could improve and market levels could return to “typical.”

It’s also important to realize that it’s not unusual for emotions to run high as markets move. Most investors won’t need to access the money they have in investments for at least a decade, which means even if market volatility affects your balances, there is plenty of time for a rebound. Besides, experts have noted that other economic factors remain strong and will carry most investors through the volatility.

If you are nearing your projected retirement date and want to make some changes, ask a professional commission-free investment advisor for help. If you haven’t yet talked to an investment advisor, now is the time. Talking with your advisor about your plan is a great way to review your situation, make adjustments as needed and regain some of that confidence you had before election night.

Historically, when considering long-term investing strategies, the stock market has demonstrated success as a way to build up a nest egg. The ebb and flow of the market is less dramatic when you look at its movement over decades. Even during recessions, such as 2008, the market historically has recovered.

At Family Investment Center, we offer a consistent, commission-free and jargon-free atmosphere for addressing all of your questions and concerns. Contact us today and find out why our team has been interviewed by sources like The Wall Street Journal, Forbes andU.S. News and World Report for our slightly “unconventional” approach.

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Dan Danford Shares Advice on Writing and Publishing Book; Danford to Speak at Two KC Area “Lunch and Learn” Events

For many it’s a labor of love. For others, it’s overwhelming to think about what it takes to start and finish the writing of a book. This is something Dan Danford, CEO of Family Investment Center, knows quite well. Danford will relay the experiences he gathered while writing his book, “Stuck in the Middle” at two KC-area Lunch and Learn Events.

Danford, who has worked for decades in investing, wrote the book to highlight the mistakes investors make that jeopardize their financial success. The book also offers tips on how to fix those mistakes. The 20 chapters in the book cover everything from how paying off a mortgage can hurt retirement, investment mistakes endorsed by the media, the stock market (why/how it’s not a casino), how banks are for managing cash (not investing) and many other topics.

Danford says the book is a valuable way to share insights and knowledge gained across his career. He began his career in business in 1984 as a bank trust officer, where he was responsible for managing tax-qualified retirement plans and IRAs. He has since visited with thousands of people who are planning for retirement. He is now sharing his knowledge in the book that asks the question “What if your middle class background is holding you back from the financial success you want?”

Danford will speak at two “Lunch and Learn” events with the topic – “What’s your truth? Using your story to write a book, and using that book to grow your business.”

The events are:

 

·         Friday, December 9, at the Northland Regional Chamber of Commerce office, 634 NW Englewood Rd, Kansas City, MO. Click here for more information. 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

·         Tuesday, December 13, at the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce, 3003 Frederick Avenue, St. Joseph, MO. Click here for more information. 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

 

Danford will also share information about investing that he covers in his book, largely written for middle class investors. Danford said he has been surprised, quite often, at the mistakes he encounters, which are mostly ideas that conflict with what professional investors know to be true today. He said many people haven’t kept up with innovations in investing, which could lead them to decisions based on outdated information.

“For many investors, their ideas about money come from early family experiences, which leave a powerful imprint on them that makes change difficult to achieve. However, it’s easy to see that the world we live in today is far different from what our parents experienced at the same point in their lives. Everything from fees to financial products and services – they’ve all evolved, and investors need to evolve as well,” says Danford.

 

Learn more at Stuck in the Middle: The Mistakes That Jeopardize Your Financial Success and How to Fix Them.

 
Listen to insights on “Money is Freedom,” a new podcast available on iTunes and Sound Cloud.

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Family Investment Center: Not Just Another Start-Up Story

If you think you’ve heard every investment advisor start-up story, think again. The story of Family Investment Center reflects a passion to be true to their core values and remain steadfast in a client-first approach (even when no one else was doing it).

 

Dan Danford, founder of Family Investment Center, had 15 years’ experience as a bank trust officer before striking out on his own, establishing Family Investment Center in 1998, just in time for a big technology boom. He had a “million dollar idea” to marry the safety of fiduciary investing with the benefits of a client-focused, commission-free atmosphere and the perks of a tech-friendly world. Nearly 20 years later, Danford and his team continue to bring investment services that cater to each individual client.

Danford’s solid background working with investments coupled with his desire to avoid the sales-driven mentality – a driver for many professionals in the investment field today – brought him to an important question: “What do I need to prosper?”  It’s that question that drove a philosophical change from seller to buyer, and it “rocked our marketplace,” Danford said.

He began working for clients under a textbook approach to investing and analyzing portfolios. Ultimately, what he lays in front of clients is a plan that they would devise if they knew as much about investing as Danford does. In fact, it’s a plan that he uses for his own family’s investments.

Here are the five key concepts applied by the Family Investment Center team to each individual:

·         World class managers and products

·         Total transparency at every level

·         Portfolios that are tailored to fit individual needs

·         Deliberate diversification

·         Ongoing monitoring and evaluation


At Family Investment Center, commissions have never been accepted (and never will be) for any investment product. The only source of revenue is a modest management fee charged to clients. Another key difference is jargon-free conversations. The Family Investment Center team of professionals are competent, confident, have excellent communication skills and make clients comfortable talking about their ideas.

The families that partner with Family Investment Center enjoy extra safety measures, including custodial, professional liability, and employee dishonesty insurance, plus ERISA bonding. Family fee schedules are scaled for large portfolios, and the investment products selected are already scaled for large portfolios as well.

 

Family Investment Center has always believed that investing really isn’t about the money itself - but rather how a person can share that wealth with those they love. Even so, it’s a team where investment advice offered comes from a place of logic – not emotion - which is crucial to succeeding in the investment space.

Find out all the reasons Family Investment Center maintains a unique approach - and why the team is interviewed by sources like the Wall Street Journal, U.S. News and World Report, Forbes, and many others. Visit www.familyinvestmentcenter.com today - or listen to the podcast “Money is Freedom” at Sound Cloud and iTunes.

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Family Investment Center CEO Launches Podcast

Danford’s Free Podcast Offers Expert Investment Advice

 

“Money is Freedom” is a new podcast series by Dan Danford, CEO of Family Investment Center. The latest podcast in his series, “Free Advice is Poor Advice,” covers how too many investors take advice from friends, relatives and colleagues (or FRCs for short) for their investing strategies.

 

While on the outside it might seem to make sense to take advice from someone who has experience with investments, the advice often doesn’t take into full account an individual’s unique situation. In essence, what might have worked for a colleague or family member may not work for you.

“FRCs only tell you half the investment story,” Danford said, “the good half. They have little knowledge about your financial situation.”

 

Danford founded Family Investment Center in 1989. He and his team are licensed and certified to give investment advice, unlike friends, relatives and colleagues who don’t possess the same insights that investment advisors have gleaned over years of experience and specialized education courses.

 

Money is Freedom – Season 1 is the title of Danford’s two-part podcast where he discusses the importance of establishing an investment portfolio using the right tools.

The blueprint of any investment project, Danford explains, is based on compound growth over time, and this should involve a variety of investment vehicles that take into account risk, reward, fees and taxes.

“You put in little amounts (of money) fairly painlessly,” Danford said, “and over time, compound growth grows them into something pretty spectacular.”

However, as an investor, you need to be wary of fees, but not so wary that you avoid pulling in third parties to assist you in your investments. It’s important to realize that everybody involved in your investment project is getting paid through layers of fees. Sales and distribution fees, Danford said, are the highest, which is why he urges you to look into this aspect of your investment projects.

 

The more personalized the service, the higher fees you’ll pay. Again, if the services are of value, you shouldn’t be offended by these fees.

“It’s fine to pay fees for convenience,” Danford said. “Some people get so wrapped up in fees they stop thinking about what they are getting in return for those fees. Sometimes what you’re getting is convenience – everything in one place.”

The “Money is Freedom” podcast is Danford’s sounding board to voice his experiences that he has gained after decades in the investment industry. As a fee-only advisor, Danford and his team act as fiduciaries and never take a commission on a product they sell to clients. It’s this objective stance that makes the advice he offers through his podcast all the more valuable as you educate yourself on investing.

Take some time to listen to Dan’s podcast which is offered through SoundCloud free of charge and share it with your friends. For a more comprehensive strategy, contact Family Investment Center and speak to an investment advisor. We’re ready to assist you with your earnings and build a stronger financial future for you and your family.

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Investment Strategies: What Can You Learn From Mega Sales?

Three Unique Tips for Staying on Top of Investment Strategies

 

By now, the smoke has cleared and the dust has settled from the busiest shopping season of the year. One of the first things that probably pops into your mind when you think of sales like Black Friday and even New Year’s Day mega-sales is the chaotic clamoring for goods at retail outlets across the U.S. However, there are investment strategies to consider that are related to the good and the bad that occurs on the nation’s biggest shopping days.

1. Show up early – and this means early research, too. Shoppers who get the goods arrive at the store early. However, the shoppers who get the best deals also did their research long before they stood in front of the store. They watched for the advertisements that suited them and made a plan for how they would target their items. But, how can this be applied to investment strategies?

·         The most successful retirement plans are hatched decades before you retire. The earlier the investment strategies are put into place, the more compound interest and investment returns can accrue. Whether you’re a shopper or an investor, the early bird gets the worm. Think it’s too late for you? Think again. An investment advisor can show you options you may not be aware of on your own.


2. Don’t immediately respond to price. The best mega-sale shoppers are attracted to the lowest price for items they really want or need, but they don’t just buy to be buying. They know in advance what the goal is and are less likely to get a great deal on something they just don’t need.

·         Smart investors act calmly. You might be surprised how many investors get excited about a specific stock and jump in at the wrong time. Smart investors aren’t swayed by passion or excitement – emotions should never drive decisions about investments.


3. Wait it out. It takes a special kind of patience to put up with the throngs of shoppers that amass on mega-sale days. Typically, the ones who come out winners are those who patiently waited for the key day, crafted a wise strategy, and were willing to stick to their plan. However, they are also smart enough to make changes when necessary.

·         Patience is a vital virtue when it comes to investing because getting the best return on your investment usually means staying with it for the long term. You create a budget that is reasonable. You save. You invest. You stick to your plan, even when the market is volatile, and you make the necessary changes as you age or as your circumstances change.


Of course, adjusting your investment strategies isn’t as simple as perusing sale flyers. You need guidance from an investment professional who puts clients first and offers unbiased advice. In fact, this is one of the habits of wealthy people – they allow professionals to help and trust their expertise. 

Family Investment Center offers a team of professional advisors who work with clients on a personal level. We won’t use industry jargon in describing your options, and because we’re commission-free, we can focus on your goals and the strategy options to get there.  Contact us today and let’s get started.

 

 

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What’s Our Goal? To Eliminate Pain for Our Clients

A Letter From Dan Danford, Founder, Family Investment Center

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_Advisors-6.jpgInvestment advisors share similarities with healthcare professionals. We do a lot of work in the background that helps keep you comfortable and reduce your aches and pains. After many years of experience, I’ve watched people come to my company, Family Investment Center, after too many sleepless nights due to their worries over retirement and other financial issues. Family Investment Center advisors are here to take away those pains. Here is what we work to provide:

We provide expert guidance. After decades in the business, we’ve learned many ways to save and pay for education. Our advisors’ knowledge covers issues regarding long-term care or medical expenses. Lately, Family Investment Center advisors have worked with clients worried about market volatility. We know how to minimize risks without sacrificing success.

We ease clients’ pain. Some clients come in worried by a lack of diversification. Maybe you’re one of the many working or retired Americans stressed out over how much you’re paying for investment services or advice. We know what everything costs, as we use research software that tracks over 31,000 mutual funds, 20,000 common stocks, 1,700 ETFs, and dozens of investment indices– and we are totally transparent about our fees, which are never based on commissions or involve hidden costs.

We provide comfort. It’s a quality that our clients find extremely valuable. As fiduciaries, we have a legal obligation to work for your best interests. We take the burden of making decisions off of your hands while looking out for your best interests. Decision fatigue is a real problem for many investors, and we’re here to make it a non-issue.

We work exclusively for our clients. It’s something that comes as a shock to many who are burned by previous relationships they’ve had with brokers or investment advisors from other firms. One of the ways we reduce that anxiety is by being a fee-only advisor, which is unique in the marketplace as it puts the interests of the client first. We never take a commission, and we never push a product that may not be fully in your best interests.  In fact, we don’t sell products at all. Clients pay a small percentage of the assets that we manage for them. Nothing more. That way, you can see the direct inventive for us to grow clients’ accounts.

We cut through the noise. Are you inundated with noise about the market and various investment products? You can do hours of market research, but chances are your knowledge of diverse situations and market fluctuations won’t reach the level of a professional advisor with education, credentials, and experience. We have invested in our team’s advanced degrees and certifications to develop a thorough understanding of the investment process and the ability to put it into action for the benefit of our clients. (And, we have the passion to accompany that knowledge.)

Don’t burden yourself. Are most investors with basic investment and finance knowledge capable of making small investment decisions on their own? Sure. However, the subtleties are often hidden in distant shadows, but we know how to see them. Risks, costs, performance claims, etc. are aspects of the business that are lost on most investors, but it’s where we prove our worth. There’s no need to suffer from decision fatigue – leave these decisions to us.

Our price is right. Family Investment Center offers our services for a comparatively low price. Attorneys charge hundreds of dollars per hour, with often a settlement awarded at the end. Architects can bill clients for 15 percent of a project’s total cost. Our modest investment fees pale by comparison.

Specialized knowledge about IRA withdrawal strategies might save thousands in taxes, or add thousands in tax-deferred growth. How much is that worth today? Think how much suffering that much money might save thirty years down the road.


Simply put, we eliminate pain for a fair and reasonable price. A major aspect of our job is to know about products, fees, strategies, and options in the marketplace. We ease decision-making and simplify life, and that investment is worth every cent.

 

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Investment Advisors Offer Key Insights During Volatile Markets

Talking to the Right Investment Advisors Calms Anxiety

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_Financial-Advisor-1_20151021-204011_1.jpgAnyone who follows the market knows that after five years of a bull market, a bear could be just around the corner. Recently we have seen a volatile market. Does this mean investors need to panic and rush to find safe harbors for their money? Probably not. Rather, it’s time to talk to your investment advisor about your fears and make rational decisions regarding your investments.

During times of volatility, investment advisors are often looking to provide value to clients, just as they do during bull markets. However, they also spend some time calming clients, working to reduce their anxiety. Investors have not forgotten the 2008-2009 stock market drop and many are worried that a rollercoaster market could bring on some losses similar to what they saw in the recession. A survey by Russell Investments shows that investors worry about the rollercoaster market more than they worry about running out of money for retirement.

We watched the market drop by half during the worst of the recession. However, we’ve seen it bounce back and then some. Regardless of the rebound, investors remember the pain of the loss and become anxious in a volatile market. People in retirement (or closest to it) are often the most anxious at times like we’re experiencing now, and investment advisors are here to help.

Here are things an investor should consider in times like these:

·         First, stay calm. Panic is contagious and can lead to an emotion-based decision.

·         Explain to your investment advisor exactly what is making you anxious.

·         Don’t focus on charts and graphs, because these seldom do anything to reduce anxiety.

·         Seek out books that address times like today. Warren Buffett, Dave Ramsey, Suze Orman, and others all have resources that can educate you on how to process the anxiety you might be feeling now.

·         Remember that making significant changes in your investments based on emotion is often a mistake. An investment advisor can remind you that fluctuations are normal and consistency is still a key element of success.

·         Ask yourself if you need a cooling-off period where you put off making decisions about your investments. Everyone makes impulsive decisions in the heat of the moment.

·         Listen to the advice of your investment advisor; they have seen many market changes and are experienced in working with a variety of tools and scenarios.


Even experienced investors can get caught up in negative media headlines and can respond accordingly. Working with a professional investment advisor means you have the confidence of knowing someone is working toward your success from an unbiased viewpoint every day.  

Family Investment Center offers a professional team who has experienced the ebb and flow, the bull and bear and the rollercoaster effects of the market. Are you anxious about your investments? Contact us today and we’ll discuss how to move forward with clear focus and higher confidence.

 

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Investment Advice in Light of Recent Market Drop: Stay Calm

 

The Best Investment Advice is to Not Get Rattled

b2ap3_thumbnail_Keep-Calm-1.gifIn a nutshell, here’s a timely tip for all investors: Keep calm and invest on.


If you’re distracted by the recent stock market, it may be time to turn off the television and stop listening to the media who are experts at driving fear into the hearts of investors. The truth is, these “experts” don’t actually care about you or your investments – they’re simply there to talk about volatile markets. The best investment advice comes from a trusted investment advisor. What is important to know about investing in a volatile market?  Here are a few important things:

 

Market fluctuation is normal. Realize that there is a constant ebb and flow in the market, fluctuations that are a necessary part of investing, and they will never go away. Don’t focus on the short-term ups and downs; rather, think about your goals for the future and what you want your investments to look like five or 10 years from now.

Some investors get so rattled they jump off the roller coaster, locking in their losses and sinking any chance of seeing those investments come back. Investing is something that requires a long-term outlook, which means you have to stick with your plan and roll with the fluctuations.

There is no outsmarting the market. Investors who get involved emotionally in where they put their money are the ones who try to “play” the market, guess where it’s going and make decisions based on those emotion-based ideas. You need to forget what happened in the past while learning from mistakes and sticking to your investment plan.

Short-term approaches offer limited value. It sounds really intriguing to buy a stock at its low and sell at its high, but that rarely occurs. If you have this tactical mindset you may just be focused on getting a thrill out of the risk involved and would be in a better position if you could take a more strategic approach to investing. A more solid strategy is based on long-term goals that carefully evaluate the amount of risk.

Go with a long-term approach. Experts have highlighted that over the last 50 years, the amount of time individual investors hold on to the same stock has shrunk. What was once a five- to 10-year holding period is now down to around a year, on average. There are firms today that trade based on technical factors and momentum, and it’s not something individual investors should try to mimic. Over time, solid investment advice continues to encourage a focus on the long-term approach largely based upon diversification and patience.

Gain better control (and more confidence) by talking to an investment advisor. Knowing where to put your resources can be stressful. Talk to a professional investment advisor and get the guidance of someone who has witnessed the ups and downs of the market and has helped navigate others through the storm. Family Investment Center has professionals on our team who will listen to your goals, then give you the confidence you need to stick with your plan. We’re also commission-free, following strong fiduciary responsibility guidelines long before they were making media headlines. Contact us today and let’s get started together.

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Investing for Physicians: Four Reasons it Differs From Other Professions

Challenges of Investing for Physicians

b2ap3_thumbnail_Physicians-1.jpgThe landscape for healthcare continues to evolve. More is expected of physicians today than at any point in history. While the focus of physicians continues to be on keeping up with technology, regulations, and the health of their patients, many may be unprepared when it comes to their own personal finances. Investing for physicians follows similar strategies to other professions, but a recent survey shows physicians also have their own set of challenges.

Physicians may delay starting retirement savings. A national poll conducted by AMA Insurance reveals that only six percent of physicians said they are ahead on their investment plan for retirement. Around half said they are not prepared for retirement. Doctors spend at least ten years training to become a professional, which means they enter the workforce at a more advanced age than those in other professions. This can put them behind in their investing goals.

Physicians enter the workforce playing catch-up, typically with debt. Many physicians come out of college with staggering student loan debt, the median of which is $278,000 for private schools and $207,000 for public schools (according to the Association of American Medical Colleges). These stats show doctors could enter the workforce around $500,000 behind in real and potential losses.

Retirement accounts are underfunded. The AMA survey shows that having enough money for retirement was the number one financial concern for physicians. In fact, 40 percent said they have less than $500,000 in their retirement accounts. For those under the age of 45, the average was less than $100,000.

Other areas of estate planning need attention as well. The survey also reveals additional estate planning issues that need to be addressed. For instance, only about half of physicians polled said they had updated their will, medical directives, power of attorney and end-of-life plans. Around 35 percent said they had no estate plan. 70 percent said they do not have a long-term care coverage plan in place.

Like most professionals, physicians live busy and demanding lifestyles, but retirement planning doesn’t have to fall by the wayside of long-term goals. When it comes to investing, there are many options to consider, including seeking out an investment advisor for guidance. Letting a professional work out the details of your retirement plan means more time spent pursuing the career you love, or more time with your family, and less time worrying about your future.

At Family Investment Center, we work with people in all walks of life – from young investors to retired professionals. We have the expertise to work within the challenges of complex careers in a commission-free setting. We truly put our clients’ needs first, and have since our founding. Reach out to our team today and let’s get started.

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Investment Strategies: Tony Robbins Highlights Important Steps to Financial Freedom

Indexed Annuities and Structured Notes as Part of Your Investment Strategies

b2ap3_thumbnail_Advisors-4.jpgTony Robbins, the square-jawed guru of self-help who dominated the airwaves in infomercials for years, now has a best seller about investment strategies. Money, Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom came out last fall and has already garnered more than 1,500 reviews on Amazon.com. Nearly 70 percent of readers give it five out of five stars. Financial advisors are also singing its praises. Specifically, Robbins addresses two products that he feels are an important part of investment strategies: indexed annuities and structured notes.

·         What are indexed annuities?
Indexed annuities are widely known and sold. They are essentially an insurance company investment product with a portion of stock market returns that are protected from losses.

·         The devil in the details
The logical question is – to what are they indexed? Dozens of investment indices exist and it matters which one is chosen. For example, what is the participation rate? How much of the index return will the owner accrue? Some annuities cap the return at 60 to 80 percent of the index’s growth each year. Does the growth include dividends?

·         Other questions to ponder
How long do you have to invest? What is the penalty for early redemption? What is the insurance company’s financial rating? Remember – a guarantee is only as good as the company offering it.

Many insurance companies will offer indexed annuity products, but different rules apply to each of the companies and each and every contract, and they can be extremely complicated. Investment strategies for indexed annuities should include finding an agent who fully understands (and can easily explain) all of the rules regarding indexed annuities.

Robbins also touches on structured notes, which is something corporations and other groups use to borrow money without using a banker as a middleman.

·         What are structured notes?
Structured notes are used as a package with a loan as a security, which is sold directly to investors. Cutting out the banker’s profit means the borrower gets a better deal.

·         How banks make money
Banks will judge the economy, industry sector, management, competition and any other relevant information. They decide to make a loan and make price adjustments (interest rates) to compensate for the risk involved. They demand collateral and might require life insurance of key managers.

·         The structured note buyer
The note buyer faces the same lending issues, but the consumer usually isn’t in a good position to evaluate the risks or make pricing adjustments. There are distribution fees to consider, and when involved with retail products, the higher those fees tend to be.

Call us today at Family Investment Center and find out more about creating an investment portfolio that can help you reach your financial goals. Our investment advisors follow philosophies developed in a similar way as Tony Robbins, and we’ve always been commission-free and investor-focused since our founding in 1998.

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Dan Danford Interviewed for Forbes Article; Shares Insights on Books That Can Change Your Views About Investing

b2ap3_thumbnail_Forbes-FIC-June-2015.JPGAs part of a team who strives for continually learning and growing to better serve clients, Dan Danford was recently interviewed by Forbes for a story about the books investment professionals. You may want to consider Dan’s recommendation for summer reading if you’re packing your own poolside bag – or just want to know what industry professionals find valuable.

Published onMay 24, 2015, titled “Personal Finance Books Financial Experts Say Will Change Your Life,” Dan talks in the article about how the release of Tony Robbins’ new book “MONEY Master the Game: 7 Steps to Financial Freedom”  is pivotal for firms that are fee-only and investor-focused because it highlights in a very public way the philosophies Family Investment Center has used for years. Danford also says in the article that “an informed public will demand some revolutionary changes in investing – and that the investment industry has historically been in favor of the seller, not the average investor. This is something investors need to know so they can work around the obstacles.”

He also notes in the interview that Robbins’ conversations with Warren Buffett, John Bogle, Charles Schwab, Carl Icahn, Boone Pickens, David Swensen and others sheds light into how valuable it can be for investors to “know the rules” before they become involved in investing. In fact, these are the same concepts Family Investment Center was founded upon as a commission-free, fee-only firm nearly 17 years ago.

Addressing several myths and truths toward investing, Robbins helps make clear, says Danford, some of the core values of investor-led services that Family Investment Center holds close. 

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Setting Emotions Aside to Invest Wisely

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Family Investment Center: A Fee-Only Advisor Pioneer

Avoid Conflicts of Interest by Choosing a Fee-Only Advisor

b2ap3_thumbnail_Investment-Advisor-1.jpgNot all investment advisors are alike. In fact, some are quite different, but in a good way, and it’s these fee-only advisors with whom you want to associate.

A quality investment advisor thinks about how they can help their clients meet their goals, not about how they can make money for themselves. This can be a problem with those who charge a commission on the products they sell to their clients. A conflict of interest potentially arises when commission is charged: how can an advisor think about what’s in your best interest when they know they have something to gain if they sell you specific products?

This isn’t to say that all advisors who take a commission aren’t making money for their clients, but statistics show us that when investors get conflicted advice, they could see a 12 percent loss in potential growth in their IRAs over a 30-year period. This is key information laid out clearly in
a report from the White House earlier this year.

When looking for an investment advisor, consider working with one that is a fee-only advisor, not fee-based. The terminology sounds similar, and that’s by design from those who take commissions. A fee-based advisor wants you to believe they are only making money from the fees they charge you, but they could actually be charging fees
and commissions.

One of the “pioneers” founded as a fee-only investment advisor is Family Investment Center. It was a decision made by the president and CEO of the company long before fee-only advisors were the norm. The year was 1998, and Dan Danford knew he was taking a risk, but he would not waiver from the importance of being a commission-free business because this philosophy enables truly client-focused service.

Since Family Investment Center opened its doors, the country has gone through two recessions and a housing crisis. It has become even more apparent across the industry as a whole that accountability is paramount, and this is something Family Investment Center has always offered – total accountability and transparency.

What the professionals at Family Investment Center have provided day after day since the company’s founding is a place where clients can walk in and have clear communication about their investments. The team has the education and experience to listen and evaluate your options from a commission-free perspective. In fact, Dan Danford and his team are often called upon by
media sources for investment insight, including the Wall Street Journal and U.S. News & World Report.

Contact Family Investment Center today to find out how your story can become part of ours.

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Simple Ways to Invest Today

Easy Planning Decisions That Can Lead to a Better Future


b2ap3_thumbnail_Financial-Planning-2.jpgInvesting, in essence, is about planning for the future. While making financial planning or investment decisions, laying the groundwork can start with some basic questions and basic adjustments that you can implement today.

How should I approach the process? Investment planning involves thinking about what you want out of life, what’s most important to you, and what you’re willing to do to get there. Many first-time investors have a tough time figuring out where their money should go: how much should be in checking and savings and how much should go to a retirement account like an IRA or a 401(k). The equation is going to be different for everyone, but a starting point may be to allot around 35 percent of your income on housing and utilities, 10-15 percent on savings, and then plan out the rest of your budget from there.

Where should I place my priorities? When it comes to paying for a roof over your head, it’s a given that you will have that expense. You should have the same thinking when it comes to paying yourself for the years you want to enjoy down the road. This may mean altering your spending. For instance, if you’re buying a $4 Starbucks coffee every morning before work, that equates to $20 a week and $80 a month. If that money were invested, by the time you’re retired, that coffee could have been traded to help purchase a vacation condo.

How do I budget properly? Investment planning is part of the classic principle of living on a budget so you know where the dollars are going (rather than wondering why they’re gone). Once you know where your money is going, you can take the necessary steps to patch the holes and start putting more in investments from which you will reap rewards later.

What options do I have in retirement investments? A few popular retirement options include employer-sponsored 401(k) accounts, many of which have the perk of an employer match. With 401(k)s, you contribute through your working years and you often have the option to borrow against your 401(k), although that’s not advised. There is also the traditional or Roth IRA to consider. As of 2015, you can put up to $5,500 per year ($6,500 if you’re 50 or older) in these accounts and, depending on your income, there is a chance you will be eligible to use traditional IRA contributions as a tax deduction. There is a wide range of other investment choices to choose from depending on your goals for retirement. It can be difficult to know which type of account is best, so working with a professional investment advisor can help these choices seem much less complex.

Family Investment Center is ready to walk you through every step of the investment planning process, whether you’re just getting started on your investment journey or if you’ve got millions in investments and need guidance on next steps. As a fee-only investment advisory firm, our team can focus on what matters most to you – rather than trying to earn commissions. Contact us to today and let’s get started.

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Financial Planning and College: Getting Through the Financial Labyrinth

b2ap3_thumbnail_College-1.jpgFor many Americans, a college degree could mean a million extra dollars earned over the life of a career. However, with the student debt load surpassing that of credit card debt, it’s easy to see why the prospect of a college career can put a great amount of fear in those who are trying to figure out which financial planning steps to take.

Private or Public – College is Still Expensive
If you think applying to public schools only will keep you (or your child) out of debt,  that may not be the case.
The average four-year state school will cost $18,000 a year to attend, which means you have to consider grants and scholarships as well as starting  your savings plan early.


Don’t Rely on the Financial Aid Office to be Your Investment Advisor
Financial aid can be a confusing process, and one that leaves students with a poor understanding of the debt they will be responsible for when they leave the university. This debt is forcing more and more college graduates to put off getting married, buying a house, having children, and starting a retirement account. Financial planning isn’t usually something most young college students think about until it’s too late, which is why more colleges are offering financial planning courses to first-year students.

To get a better handle on the situation, know where your bottom line is – whether you’re helping your child with college or they’re handling it on their own. You’re probably not going to find your bottom line on your financial aid letter, unfortunately, so you’ll have to make calculations yourself. Don’t forget that nearly all schools have tuition and fees. Tuition might be $280 per credit hour, but there are also various fees attached to each credit hour that you have to factor in. And that’s only part of the equation: you also have to consider the costs for books, food, housing, and other miscellaneous expenses.

Saving Money on the First Two Years of College – It’s Possible
Community colleges saw a massive influx of students during the recession as everyone scrambled to make ends meet. Now that we’re out of the recession, saving money by attending a community college for the first two years still makes sense and it’s something that many more students are doing to offset the crushing debt that many others find themselves in once they begin earning “real” paychecks. Also note that attending a high-status school may mean thousands of dollars more in debt – and may not mean higher-paying jobs after graduation.

Experts advise families to match the student’s career goals with a school whose tuition matches their projected income. For example, maybe Harvard isn’t the most ideal choice for a student who will enter the workforce projected to earn $35,000 a year. In this case, a student might attend a community college or less prestigious university and start investing for their future early in their earning years -- instead of paying off huge loans.

Seek Out the Advice of an Investment Advisor
Saving for college while also trying to sock away money for a comfortable retirement can be a difficult task, but there are ways to do both. At
Family Investment Center, we’ve helped many families navigate these decisions and achieve more confidence toward their futures. Talk to us about what concerns you have and we’ll work together to make a plan.

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Calling All Thinkers: Family Investment Center CEO Starts New Book Club

b2ap3_thumbnail_Brand-6.jpgAmericans get together across the country every week or every few weeks either at a library, someone’s living room or a local bookstore to discuss their latest reads. Yet, there is a lot more to book clubs than just reading books, and Americans are taking note and joining clubs.

There are virtual book clubs popping up on the Internet, but the more popular choice is to host a small gathering of like-minded individuals while discussing books and any other topic that might come up, perhaps something as light as new recipes or as serious as family and business. Members get a sense of empowerment as they share their opinion about a book. They feel a sense of community, often with people they’re meeting for the first time. For some, it’s simply a break from the norm – an activity that breaks up the monotony of everyday life.

To give St. Joseph and North Kansas City residents an opportunity to get everything they can out of a book club, Family Investment Center Founder/CEO Dan Danford is hosting two new community book clubs beginning in May. The club is named You, Me and Zuck: A Community Book Club Based on Mark Zuckerberg’s Year of Books. The club seeks to bring the community together with the goal of building relationships while sharing knowledge. Zuckerberg said that he “found reading books very intellectually fulfilling. Books allow you to fully explore a topic and immerse yourself in a deeper way than most media today. I'm looking forward to shifting more of my media diet towards reading books.”

Danford said he’s looking forward to his club’s members sharing valuable insights and information with each other, starting with The End of Power by Moises Naim, which looks at former powerful leaders and the newer, smaller powers that are helping to change the landscape of leadership.

“As a business, we believe it’s part of our responsibility to interact with the community and help foster new ideas and inspiration. That’s what we do here at our company every day, and it’s natural to want to share that,” says Danford.


The “You, Me and Zuck” Book Club Titles Are:

· The first book the club will read is The End of Power by Moises Naím. The book discusses the shift in power from West to East and North to South, and from traditional power platforms like presidential houses and palaces to public squares.

· The second is from Sudhir Venkatesh, Gang Leader for a Day, a book that comes out of nearly a decade living in a notorious housing project in Chicago where gangs rule the neighborhood. Venkatesh sheds light on the “morally ambiguous, highly intricate, and often corrupt struggle to service in an urban war zone.”

· The third month of the book club features Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces that Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull. Readers will see into the mind of one of Pixar Animation Studio’s founding members and get his take on managing employees to get the most out of them.

· The fourth book on the list is The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker, who is a cognitive scientist investigating our violent past and how brutal practices are now declining in society.

· For the club’s fifth meeting, members will read On Immunity by Eula Biss. The author, who is a National Book Critics Circle Award winner, talks about her fears as a parent. She discusses fear of the medical establishment, government, and what’s in the air children breathe, the food they eat and in their vaccines.

· For the sixth and final meeting for this round of readings is The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by philosopher Thomas Kuhn. This book, published in 1962, examines the process of discovery and challenges idea of normal scientific progress.

 

Kansas City Meeting Dates:

May 14

June 11

July 9

August 13

September 10

October 8

St. Joseph Meeting Dates:

May 28

June 25

July 23

August 27

September 24

October 22

The first meeting in Kansas City will be held at 7p.m., Thursday, May 14, 2015, at Barnes and Noble at Zona Rosa. These gatherings will recur on the second Thursday of every month through October. St. Joseph members will attend their first meeting on Thursday, May 28, 2015, at the East Hills Library Conference Room. Meetings will recur here every fourth Thursday of the month through October.

We invite you to join us, either in-person or online and share your opinions. For more information, contact us at Family Investment Center.

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Retirement Planning and Social Security: What Questions Should You Ask?

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_Advisors-2.jpgIt’s something that the average American worker might have thought about for many years – how Social Security plays into a retirement strategy. Rather than jumping on benefits the day you are able to receive them, consider talking through your options with an advisor.

Once you reach age 62, which is the age at which you can start withdrawing benefits, you have a decision to make (actually, several decisions) about your Social Security. In fact, you may not know that the decisions you make for claiming your Social Security benefits could mean receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional benefits over your lifetime.

Some areas you may want to ask a professional investment advisor about include:

·         How to receive a larger, inflation adjusted lifetime payment by suspending benefits

·         The process involved in waiting to collect your benefits

·         Spouse or widow benefits, even if you’re divorced

·         How to choose options when one spouse receives benefits early and the other decides to wait until a later date

·         Benefits of discussing your choices with an advisor rather than making your Social Security decisions on your own


Should I wait?
In most cases, there is a benefit to waiting on collecting your benefits because you could see an increase of about six to eight percent for every year between 62 and 70, plus cost of living adjustments. That can add up to thousands of extra dollars you’ll receive later.

I started collecting early and want to reverse that decision.
For those of you who have already filed, it’s not too late to reverse your filing decision. For instance, let’s say you started collecting your retirement at age 62 and want to suspend the benefits until you turn 70. You can, but to change your election strategy you only have 12 months from the time you file to make a change.

What should we do if we are each eligible for benefits?
Advisors often recommend collecting from the smaller benefit early and holding on to the larger benefit for collection later. If you’re married and you each were to take your own benefits at the same time, you may lose the opportunity to draw a little now and more later.

I’m divorced. Does that mean my benefits are negated? If you were married for at least 10 years, it’s highly likely that you’re eligible for spousal benefits on the earnings of your ex-spouse. You have to be proactive with this benefit because Social Security is not allowed to give financial advice or suggest case-by-case recommendations – you must reach out to them. However, if you’ve remarried, these benefits disappear.  

I know my way around finances – shouldn’t I just make these decisions on my own and save money? The Social Security system is not just a “file and done” decision-making process. There are hundreds of options to be aware of that most people are not aware of to maximize their lifetime payments.  An advisor should help you sort through the hundreds of Social Security income claiming possibilities to help you get more lifetime income. (It’s true that some couples have seen benefit increases of $150,000 and higher over their lifetime by delaying their benefits and finding out all their options.)

In addition to investment management, Family Investment Center offers both expertise on Social Security options and access to dedicated software. We can sit down with your family and move through various scenarios so that when it’s decision-making time, you can do so with confidence. Contact us today to schedule a meeting. 

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Investment Strategies, Based on the Philosophies of Warren Buffett

b2ap3_thumbnail_Millionaire-1.jpgWhen it comes to considering someone else’s ideas about investment strategies, it’s always thought-provoking to look at what the “Oracle of Omaha”, Warren Buffett, has to say.  

When it comes to financial success, his staying power continues to be a source of conversation. Warren Buffett joined Berkshire Hathaway 50 years ago and has helped steer the company toward 20 percent annual growth since – aside from the fact that he also happens to be a billionaire and one of the richest people on Earth. He didn’t get that way by making unwise investment decisions. What advice does he offer to investors?


Don’t pay too much for an investment. Buffett is an expert on buying businesses and making a profit off of them. His advice is simple: no business, regardless of how many customers it has, is a good investment when you’ve overpaid for it. The same can be said for stocks. For investors who get caught up in the “trending stocks” that promise a massive return, remember that if you’re paying too much for it, it’s it may not ever amount to a good investment.

Don’t try to time the market. We know that historically, the market will fluctuate. We also know that it could give you a better return when you invest for the long-haul. People are often afraid of volatility, but if experts have learned anything from the ebb and flow of the market, it’s that staying in over the long-run and not making overly risky (or emotion-based) decisions is a sound investment practice.

Everybody will make a mistake or two – face yours head-on. Buffett is quick to point out mistakes he’s made, whether it was buying a company he knew might turn out poorly, or passing on a company that could have turned a massive profit for him. The key is to not dwell on mistakes – take your lumps and get on with it.

Nobody can tell you what a stock will be worth next year. Some investors have fun trying to predict the market. However, it’s always been and always will be partly a guessing game. You can’t judge a stock solely by the year it had; that’s often more of a story about the market than it is about a stock. Experienced, professional investment advisors, however, can utilize strategies and knowledge to help you reach goals you may not reach investing on your own.

“Don’t ask the barber whether you need a haircut.” This is Buffett’s way of saying if you want advice about investing, don’t ask someone who is out to sell you something. When it comes to investment strategies from third parties, consider a commission-free (“fee-only”) advisor who has nothing to gain from recommending a particular financial product. Advisors who take commissions, sometimes called “fee-based”, are making money off investors in two ways – the fee they charge to manage an investment and from commissions paid to them when they convince a client to buy a product. In contrast, a fee-only advisor is acting solely in the best interest of the client.

Family Investment Center is a fee-only investment advisor.  Our team of advisors can help guide you with your best interests at heart. We never take commissions, and we’ve always treated our clients as part of our own family. For more information about how we approach investment strategies, contact us today.

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Financial Planning and Romance: As a Couple, How Do You Rank?

b2ap3_thumbnail_Financial-Planning-1.jpgThe idea of sitting down together to pour over a spreadsheet about your financial health may not sound totally appealing at first – but sometimes couples need a new approach to financial planning, as shared recently by Money magazine.

The topic remains popular, and author Jonathan Rich recently wrote a book about couples and how they can approach money topics in a more romantic fashion. The psychologist says money talks are about long-term plans, which involve both partners and should be considered a romantic situation. Here are a few things couples can consider when they approach the conversation:

·         Start with identifying shared values. If you have children, you’ll likely begin with them – their education, trusts for them after you and your partner have passed on.  Take into account your religious affiliations and any social causes you are passionate about. Most couples can find common ground in these areas.

·         Next, come up with a list of goals related to your shared values. Write each goal on individual pieces of paper. These will include goals for your children, vacation goals, retirement goals, etc.

·         Your goals might differ slightly (or by a large margin) from your partner’s goals. Compare and contrast these goals now by putting each individual goal on the table for the other to see and rank them and list how much money you believe should be attached to each goal.

You will probably find out when you go through this scenario that you can make compromises more easily when everything is laid out on the table and everything is ranked, with some dollar values presented. You’ll discover where you need to start cutting back on spending, how much you need to direct toward savings and investments, and how you can reach your financial planning goals in a more timely manner.

This is excellent groundwork to lay down before visiting with a trusted
investment advisor for feedback. When you’ve aligned your goals, you can take them to an advisor who can help you tweak various investments and offer advice on how you can reach your goals quicker. Maybe you’ve still got some unresolved issues on the table. Not every goal will be met with total acceptance from the other partner. In some cases, it’s simply a matter of preference, but when it’s a matter of what makes more sense as an investment, an advisor can bring a qualified, unbiased viewpoint to the table, which can help resolve ongoing issues. After all, this is what they are experienced and trained to do; professional advisors help individuals and couples make these decisions daily. Let one take the hassle off your mind so you can carve out time for other tasks you might be the expert at.

Choose your advisor wisely. Pick one that has experience dealing with family matters and can bring an objective viewpoint to the financial planning discussion – including one that doesn’t overtly favor one opinion over another unless it makes the best financial sense. It may also be helpful to consider if you’re looking for a commission-free investment advisor, because if so, this means the advisor’s motivations to “make the sale” are set aside.

Family Investment Center is a team of experienced, professional advisors who know how to communicate with each member of the family, from young adults just starting out to retired investors who continue to seek advice on growing their nest eggs together. Contact us today to learn more about our unique education and experience.

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The Importance of Balance: Not Just in Life, but In Your Investment Portfolio

b2ap3_thumbnail_Investment-Management-1.jpgBalance…we’re all looking for it. But have you considered what it means to your retirement and your financial future?

If you’re looking for long-term performance, you’ve probably considered that you can’t put all your eggs in one basket, as the old adage goes. Many professional investment advisers have watched balanced portfolios outperform those that are focused on limited products. Instead of trying to determine what might be the next big performer, consider more diversified asset allocation strategies and consider these suggestions as you ponder what balance means to you:

Know your investment goals going in; this may include developing a long-term
look at your investments. For instance, you know the stock market ebbs and flows. You may see periods of losses while reaching goals. However, you also know that in the long term, people who stick with their choices through the good and bad likely have a better chance of coming out on top in the end.

However, the long-term strategies don’t always work for short-term goals, which means you have to be flexible in your thinking. For instance, you wouldn’t want to invest in volatile stocks if you’re building a college savings account for your children who will start college in just a few years. You might see an upswing from time to time, but what if the market falls drastically just as your child is nearing enrollment? He or she won’t have the luxury of waiting for the market to recover.

The strategy in your
investment portfolio should consider variables such as inflation, especially when you’re on a fixed income. Your buying power can be significantly reduced by inflation as your regular payment through annuities and bonds remains the same over the years. You may want to consider owning securities that can help to offset the impact of inflation.

Don’t forget investments aren’t all about stocks and bonds. Consider investing in more asset types to help reduce the volatility of your investment portfolio. Commodities can counteract inflation because as inflation goes up, commodity prices may rise in accordance. You can also look into market-neutral funds if you’re investment style is more in line with the risk-averse. Furthermore, what you currently own is also an investment, particularly if it is art, property, rare items, or collectibles. These are items that won’t appear in your quarterly report but could be considered part of your overall portfolio.

Finally, it is important not to follow fads. Maybe you learned the hard way or watched it happen to a friend or colleague. By the time you’ve heard about a so-called “miracle” investment, it’s probably already peaked and you’ll simply be catching it on the way down.

Keeping up on the possibilities is something many investors are interested in, but not necessarily professional skilled at. Protect what you’ve earned by consulting a professional investment advisor. They are experienced in researching, watching the markets, managing portfolios, and learning about ways to help their clients reach their individual goals. (And wouldn’t it be nice to have someone who does this for a living investing their workday time and experience into the process, for you, so you don’t have to?)

At
Family Investment Center, we’ve got a team of advisors ready to assist you in balancing and diversifying your portfolio, all without the pressure of sales commission. Contact us today and find out how we can devise a strategy that’s custom-built for you – so you’re free to work toward balance in other areas of your life.

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Investing for Women: How Does it Differ From Men?

b2ap3_thumbnail_Investing-3_20141126-035835_1.jpgMen and women invest differently, says recent research – but some of the findings may surprise you. One set of statistics (shown below) regarding women and their financial stability can be especially thought-provoking. Where do you fit into the research numbers?

Statistics from the
U.S. Census Bureau show:

·         42 percent of women in the study said they aren’t financially secure

·         Around two-thirds of women said they can’t cover their basic needs

·         Of families headed by single mothers, only 18 percent are financially secure

·         Older women living in poverty outnumber older men by 50 percent

·         The annual income for older women is $14,000; for men, it’s $24,300

·         Only seven percent of women are very confident in their ability to retire comfortably

These facts may be alarming, but they also point to the unique needs and opportunities many women have when it comes to investing, such as the needs that arise from living longer than men.

One reason investing for women is different than for men is lifespan. Women, according to Census data, work an average of 27 years to men’s 40 years. However, they live about six year longer than men, which means they need more money for retirement. Social Security benefits can help women ease the shortfall, especially if they wait to start drawing down benefits until later in life (something a financial advisor can explain in more detail).

Sound investments also need to be part of the mix when you are looking at investing for women. One barrier may be an uneasiness or lack of confidence toward investing. In fact, Forbes reported on the subject recently in an article titled “Closing the Confidence Gap: Women and Investing.” The article touches on something called the “female financial paradox.” This is about women growing into an economic force, contributing $6 trillion in income across the world in the next five years. However, some women who have large sums of money sitting in a low-earning savings account say they don’t have the time to figure out how to get started on a smart investment strategy. Others say they are limited by their thought patterns toward being risk-averse or lack confidence in choosing an investment strategy. Women may also be more likely than men to preserve their wealth, which means they may give up an opportunity for higher returns from investing.

Another difference involves how men and women view the role of making investment decisions. In the Forbes article, a financial advisor at Northwestern Mutual said that women have more power and earning potential than they’ve ever have, but many are placing others in the position as head of the household and relegating investment decisions to that person, often the husband. Taking a more team-based approach on the discussions regarding investments could open more doors in the future.

One area that many women could devote more focus toward is the rate at which they participate in company retirement plans. While they are as likely as men to sign up for the plan, they are putting less into it than are men, according to a report by Aon Hewitt. Advisors often say that if you’ve got a retirement plan at your company, participate fully and take advantage of the company match – and never invest less than the company is willing to match.

Regardless of gender, talking with an investment professional with real-world experience managing investments can impact your investment behaviors and attitudes and how you’ll reach your goals. Family Investment Center has an experienced team ready to discuss strategies that fit your family. Contact us today to find out how we can work with you toward maximizing the opportunities that may already exist for you… or those that may come your way.

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Are You in the One Percent? Investment Advisors Can Offer New Perspective

b2ap3_thumbnail_Investing-8_20141018-205524_1.jpgNinety-nine percent of Americans probably don’t have much in common with the wealthiest one percent, but there are investment tips we can observe and learn from them.

According to a study by SigFig, the
wealthiest one percent did better than 40 percent of everyone else in their investments in 2014. What are they doing with their investments that 99 percent of the other investors aren’t?

The wealthiest people in America are looking to their
investment advisors for advice, but that’s a strategy that can apply to all investors, too. What the richest people in the world do with their investments, the way they approach them and the mindset they have going into investing, can apply to all levels of investors. For instance, avoid letting emotions come into play where investments are involved. Investment advisors nationally are making this suggestion.

Emotions toward the future can be challenging to control. Throw money into the mix and the situation gets even more difficult. Some investors react quickly to market fluctuations or media stories. Others may see investing as some sort of a game. According to the article, wealthy people maintain a consistent approach to investing.

Another tip to consider that many one-percenters keep in mind is in regard to taxes.
Warren Buffet famously said that his secretary pays more taxes than does he, which may or may not be good in the end -- but for investment purposes, you need to take advantage of every tax break allowed to you. Many investors don’t know what advantages are available to them because they haven’t sought the advice of investment advisors. Tax advantage strategies involve keeping an eye on improved performance while simultaneously looking out for tax rates and making sure they’re in check.

Yes, the market ebbs and flows; it rises and falls and can be a source of stress for those who are risk-averse. However, many people who stay in the market eventually see a positive return. It’s wise to watch the market, but not to get revved up about all the hype that gets generated over hot new stocks.

While even the wealthiest among us will see wealth shift from time to time, utilizing professional investment advisors for guidance means the experts are doing the hard work for you.
Family Investment Center is ready to offer that guidance to you today in a commission-free environment, whether you’re part of the one percent or the other 99.

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Financial Planning for Physicians: Article Discusses Where They Go Astray

b2ap3_thumbnail_401K-1.jpgFidelity Investments surveyed more than 5,000 physicians about their portfolios and looked at where they allocate their assets in 401(k) plans. The report revealed that physicians often show too much confidence in their investments, affecting how they allocate their funds.

There are other factors at play that could negatively affect physicians’ investments. First, after more than a decade in school, many enter the workforce at a more advanced age, which means their portfolios can be quite small when people choosing professions requiring less school have seen a decade or more of growth in their investments.

After all of those hours studying, some doctors will come into their profession ready for a few nice things…such as a nice car, nice home, and memberships that come with a heavy price tag. Financial planning for physicians should include steps to plan for a variety of situations.

Professional advisors may recommend that physicians max out their
401(k)s, but the Fidelity research shows that many don’t. (Instead, they may opt for nicer purchases). Utilizing the $18,000 maximum contribution (in 2015) for 401(k) could make a tremendous difference in retirement and could help make up for all of those years finishing a professional medical education.

                                                          
The Fidelity study also looked at stock investments physicians made compared to the target-date funds that were recommended for people in their age group. Some investment advisors may recommend the target-date funds because they start off investing aggressively and then move to less aggressive investments later in life, but physicians make more money than many other professionals, which means their involvement might not be as heavy in target-date funds. Fidelity found that nearly 40 percent of physicians have around 77 percent of their investments in equities while they’re in their 30s.

Financial planning for physicians may require more direction from trusted sources that know the risks, the flexibility, and the course that investments should take over a lifetime. For many doctors, this plan includes investing more aggressively at an older age and working part-time in retirement. However, they can’t be too risky, which is another fact Fidelity discovered in its study – many doctors aged 60 to 64 have nearly 65 percent of their portfolio in equities, which could be too aggressive.

Regardless of your profession, knowing exactly what to do with your money is a difficult task, which is why financial planning for physicians should include bringing a professional investment advisor into the mix.
Family Investment Center is experienced in this area. In fact, Dan Danford, Chief Executive Officer, was twice named to the Medical Economics magazine list of "150 Top Financial Advisors.” Medical Economics accepts nominations from doctors, medical organizations, and other professionals, then spends six months screening the candidates on a variety of criteria including education, expertise, experience, compensation, recommendations, and service to the medical community.

 

Third-party rankings do not guarantee future investment success or that you will experience a higher level of performance. Rankings are based on information supplied by the advisor and should not be construed as an endorsement by any client. Not all advisors apply.

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Financial Goals: Can Your Advisor be a Good Friend?

b2ap3_thumbnail_Advisors-2.jpgJust because an advisor wears the right clothes and talks the talk doesn’t mean they are the best advisor for making smart moves with your money. Many investors have made the error of working with a close friend or family member on investment decisions, only to find out later that the relationship is strained or the results just aren’t there.

Your financial goals are so important to how you’ll live now and in the future. Don’t feel guilty about changing advisors if needed, because in the end, it’s your retirement and your nest egg that matters most. If this means not leaning on friends or family as your key go-to advice for investments, rest in the knowledge that working with an experienced, professional advisor means you may be closer to the future you want (and this could mean you’re able to bless your loved ones even more down the road).

Some advisors promote relationship marketing, but be careful of what this means about the true experience level of the individual or firm. Be watchful of commission-based sales that may leave you feeling stressed or guilty. A reputable advisor will not require you to have a lunch date or be swayed by commission-based sales; they’ll simply invite you to their office where they’ll explain exactly what it is they do and how their unique experience may be helpful to you. Also watch for too much industry-specific jargon. An experienced advisor should be able to communicate about the tools they use in a clear-cut, uncomplicated way. It’s their job to understand all the complexities of terms…not yours!

How can you ensure that you’re going to be partnered with the best advisor? First, consider choosing fee-only advisors. A fee-based advisor is not the same thing as a fee-only advisor. Note: A fee-based advisor can charge commissions, too. Fee-only advisors, on the other hand, are committed to helping their clients understand the issues involved with their portfolios and focus on customer needs since they are completely commission-free. Because you’re paying a fair and ongoing fee, it’s just part of the service. You’ll find resources at National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA), an association exclusively for fee-only advisors.


At Family Investment Center, our team of investment professionals uses clear and direct language to explain concepts and tools, and we operate on the side of the investor. This has been our philosophy since we opened our doors in 1998. Contact us today to get started with a new view of your investment future.

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Let’s Talk About Your New Start in 2015 (With an Investment Advisor)

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Now that your 2015 resolutions and plans have started to take shape (or maybe shake out), are you including investment goals as part of your plans for the upcoming year?

Unfortunately, most resolutions are an attempt at self-improvement, but less than ten percent of people actually follow through with their goals. This is evident at your local fitness club, which is bursting at the seams during the first part of January. By February, the place is less crowded. Don’t make the same mistake with your investment goals. Here are some points to consider as you get started:

What are you worth? It’s a loaded question, but an important one. Let’s make it easier: calculate your net worth by looking at all your assets and liabilities. This will help you get a clearer picture of where to begin setting your goals for the coming year.

Setting priorities is not that difficult; sticking to them is. You’ll need to begin your planning by prioritizing spending and saving. For people looking to increase their investments in the coming year or years, this involves changing habits, which is why so many people fail at their resolutions – they aren’t ready to accept these changes. (If it were easy, everyone would follow through.) For people who seek the advice of professional investment advisors, the chances of making good on a goal can increase dramatically.

Automation can also assist you in sticking to your goals. For instance, you may be enrolled in your company’s
401(k) plan, which automatically takes money out of your check before it’s deposited into your checking and/or savings account. There is so little required of you; all you need to do to increase the amount you want to put into your retirement account and the company takes care of the rest. For those of you who are 50 or older, you can take advantage of “catch-up contributions,” which allow you to put more than the maximum amount into your 401(k) every year.

You may want to consider if you’re putting all your investment hopes and dreams into your 401(k);
investment advisors are also keen to point out the value of IRAs and other investment tools. You can contribute to a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA, or both. There are parameters limiting how much you can contribute, but investment advisors will be able to assist you with this.

Navigating the pathways you’ll find when it comes to investments is difficult, but not for professional, experienced investment advisors. Come to
Family Investment Center and let us help you map out your New Year’s investment resolutions.

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Financial Planning for College: Are You Making the Right Decisions Early?

b2ap3_thumbnail_College-Tuition-3.jpgAnyone with older children will tell you how fast kids go from wearing diapers to sporting their first backpack full of college textbooks. For those of you wanting to help your children finance college, if it’s still early in the game for you, it’s time to start thinking about financial strategies for planning your child’s college career. If it’s not early in your child’s school career, it still may be time to put some strategies in place to help offset the costs of higher education.

If you’re considering starting early or waiting 10 or so years before establishing a
college savings account, consider that a person who socks away $100 a month into a mutual fund for college expenses during the first year of their child’s life could build up several thousand dollars more than someone who puts it off for a decade. The sooner you start saving money, regardless of how little it is, the more opportunity you’ll have to make that money grow.

College costs aren’t going down. In fact, student debt overall is surpassing that of credit card debt in America. Many state legislators are working to control costs, but at some point, it comes down to you and your kids making financial decisions that will impact their student debt load and, perhaps more importantly, your ability to retire comfortably.

Obviously, saving modest amounts of money every month for your child’s college education makes sense because students racked with debt tend to get a later start on just about everything in life: they put off buying houses, cars, starting a family, and investing for their own retirement. However, advisors offering
financial planning for college will tell you not to sacrifice your own retirement for your child’s college.

For parents who put the bulk of their savings into a college fund and not as much into their retirement savings, many find out later in life how difficult this makes retirement financially. While the student comes out of college debt free, they could end up supporting the parent(s) because they have limited resources to live on after retirement. In turn, this can negatively impact your child’s ability to save for retirement. Financial planning for college doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing situation; you don’t have to choose between retirement or college savings.

There are avenues available to you that offer a tax benefit, such as the Section 529 plan, which allows family members to set aside money for college tuition. Not only does it offer a tax benefit for those making the investment, but it also provides long-term growth opportunity for the student. You can also invest in an education savings account. By putting away a maximum of $2,000 a year, these education savings accounts can add up over time to help offset the high tuition costs.

Financial planning for college is difficult for most parents to undertake on their own, especially when also considering retirement planning -- which is why many people choose to consult with a professional investment advisor.
Family Investment Center professionals have assisted many families in planning their investments for college so they can feel more confident toward both higher education and retirement. Contact us today and get started on a plan that will benefit you and your kids.

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Financial Planning Can be Alarming: 31 Percent Haven’t Started Saving or Investing

b2ap3_thumbnail_Retirement-Planning-2.jpgThe statistics are alarming when it comes to Americans and their rates of planning for retirement. According to the Federal Reserve Board, 31 percent have not saved for retirement and haven’t put a plan in motion to get them on track for investing for their golden years.

What’s holding everyone back?

Good old-fashioned fear. The answer, it would appear, is fear. The markets fluctuate, sometimes sharply. Often, this doesn’t work well for the risk averse who let their emotions dictate their
financial future. While they think they’re doing themselves a favor by staying out of the market, they miss opportunities to allow their money to work for them.

Reluctance after the recession. Many thousands of potential retirees had to put off their retirement plans in 2009 after 401(k) and IRA accounts took a hit. When the market takes huge hits like it did during the recession, it only fuels a general fear of the market. However, for investors who ride out the bad times and leave emotion out of their investment decisions, they can typically accept the good with the bad and come out on top -- especially if they have a professional advisor on hand to assist.

Lack of education from an experienced (and unbiased) investment planner. Dr. Michael Guillemette, a professor at the University of Missouri and a certified financial planner™ professional, looked into how
emotions play into investment decisions and financial planning. He found that advisors who focused their discussions on value-added aspects of the investment process can often assist their clients in easing the emotions related to the market.

Emotions related to spending habits can be a real barrier. Emotions often play into decisions regarding what you spend your money on and how much you put into your investments. For instance, let’s say to meet your retirement and financial planning goals, you should put another $200 a month in your retirement account(s). You can free up $200 a month by simply cutting out that cup of premium coffee you stop to purchase before work every morning. It makes sense to cut out this expense because the numbers are glaring at you from your spreadsheet. However, what if that stop in the morning is about more than just the caffeine? What if that stop is part of your morning routine that gets you in the work mindset? The coffee suddenly becomes worth more than what you spend on it. 

Professional investment advisors will work through these decisions with clients and find areas that pit emotional costs against financial costs, ultimately working out some new strategies or an “amendment” to help a person achieve their financial planning goals. A trusted, experienced advisor might explore new solutions for spending habits, and few will allow fear, emotions, and other aspects of investing to get in the way of a client moving forward.

The professionals at
Family Investment Center have worked with clients through the attitudes, habits, and patterns that are often part of the investment process. Our team can look beyond the spreadsheet and help you work through the emotional decision-making processes that have merit and those that don’t have merit. Contact us today and we’ll discuss your concerns and your options, which can equal a brand new, confident perspective for 2015.

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Don’t Make the Same Mistakes as Other Couples

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(Let Financial Advisors Guide You)

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Think about the last disagreement you had with your partner or spouse. Was it money related? If you answered “yes,” you are like many couples that say their most frequent arguments are centered on the subject of money. A survey in SmartMoney magazine said that around 70 percent of couples talk about money on a weekly basis, which means if they’re not reading from the same playbook, there will be plenty of opportunity for disagreement. Creating a strategy with financial advisers can help lessen money disagreements and relates stress about these choices.

In fact, one of the areas many financial advisors are paying closer attention to is emotions and money. Many professional advisors suggest never making an investment decision based on an emotion. Approaching finances from an objective, strategic view is likely to result in a positive experience and help boost your confidence.

When it comes to banking together, what works for one couple might not work for the next, but a majority of couples in the survey (64 percent) have all their money in a joint account. Only 14 percent go with completely separate bank accounts. The remaining percent do a mixture of both. Whichever style you choose, when it comes to investing for the future, it’s smart to keep each other well-informed – especially as life savings and retirement planning are involved.

Another area of interest in the survey pertains to responsible spending and saving. Often, the problems start when what’s important for one person seems frivolous to the next. Statistically, men and women actually spend about the same amount of money, but on different things. Setting up a budget that works for both parties and includes a solid strategy for retirement is key to success in this area. A financial advisor can help you make decisions about which amounts are best for your lifestyle and even help with life expectancy predictions. (You may not know that today, many people live 10 to 15 years longer than they think they will!)

Finally, the area of secrets when it comes to investing can be a major roadblock to success for some couples. SmartMoney stated that men are almost 40 percent more likely to take an investment risk than their spouse, but on either side, the topic of risk may never come up in an investment conversation.  Experts recommend couples sit down together and look at all their investments at least once per year, especially if one of you is more likely to seek a higher level of risk than the other.


The family dynamic is different with just about every situation. At
Family Investment Center, we’ll sit down with you and help you walk out with a plan that puts you on the same page, keeping your joint goals as the focus. Our team has nine advanced degrees and certificates, plus decades of experience to draw from. Schedule a conversation with us today and see how we can help you build a plan that works --- all in a commission-free setting.

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401(k) Confusion Got You Down? Contact an Investment Advisor

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_401K-1.jpgFeeling restless at work? You’re not alone. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers are switching jobs every 4.4 years on average. USA Today recently highlighted the situation, stating that for people who take advantage of their company’s 401(k), there may be as many as six different options when a job switch approaches. The situation of 401(k) confusion looks to continue, as the next generation of workers – the Millennials – are predicted to spend three years or less at a job.

You likely already know you have options when it comes to the money you have in your 401(k). Some employers will let you leave it there without making future contributions. Rather than having multiple accounts, you can take that money and transfer it to your plan at your new place of employment. Few
investment advisors would suggest that you cash out your 401(k) due to tax implications, but that is also an option (that may also come with penalties). Finally, you can convert to an in-plan Roth or make a total Roth conversion.

If you make 401(k) contributions automatically through your paycheck, the decision on what you will do with your account when you quit or retire will be a very important decision. For instance, for the person who is under the age of 59.5 and decides to pull out of their 401(k), they will incur a 10 percent tax penalty. Worse yet, the loss on potential gains should that money have been left in the market could be thousands of dollars.

One of the big advantages of leaving your money in the company plan is that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 protects it. When you move that money to an IRA, it’s only protected at the state level with creditor protection. This can differ per state, so ask your financial advisor what’s going on in your state.

There are also advantages of rolling your money over to an IRA. For instance, you generally have more choices for investments in an IRA, and there may be more protections for them than what you’ll find in a 401(k) during bad economic times, such as the recession in 2008.  Also, an IRA allows for simplification through consolidation.  If you have multiple plans from past employers, you may roll them all over to one IRA account instead of having accounts with multiple custodians. 

When it comes to estate planning, IRAs are easier to manage because you can actually create different accounts, including “stretch” IRAs. You have more flexibility with an IRA in that you can take distributions whenever you want. You can gain some added benefits with Roth IRA than you can with the Roth 401(k), which is another topic you should discuss with your financial advisor. 

The best-laid plans are often made constructed with the guidance of a professional advisor.
Family Investment Center has advisors with years of experience in advising clients about 401(k)s and IRAs. To end the confusion or speculation about what you need to do when you leave a job, contact the professionals at the Family Investment Center today.

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You Can Take the Emotion and Fear Out of Financial Planning for Retirement

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Financial-Planning-1.jpgEven people who never procrastinate may suddenly find other things to do when the subject of financial planning, especially retirement planning, comes up. Developing a strategy for a point in your life that is still decades away is just too easy to put off for most people. Plus, the intricacies found in the planning process can be intimidating, especially for people who have math anxiety or are afraid of making the wrong decision. Here are some tips to help guide you as you move forward:

Don’t focus too much on market fluctuations. If history has taught us anything, it’s that the economy will ebb and flow, and investments follow that trend. However, many advisors will tell you that being fearful or overly risk-averse creates a situation where money situated in a savings account doesn’t reach the potential it could have with wise investing.

The sooner you start the process, the sooner you can sidestep your anxiety about financial planning for retirement and the brighter your retirement will look. Remind yourself that when you’re looking at the big picture, you’re involved in an ongoing process -- your goals could, and perhaps should, change from time to time.

Another way to approach the process is to look at the finish line. How do you want to live in retirement? Do you expect to have the same comforts then as you do now? Start with a number based on what you’re earning now and how much you’re spending every month to get by. Armed with this number, you can start the process of determining exactly how much money you may want to invest out of every paycheck so that you can maintain the same lifestyle in retirement. Professional advisors can help you look at things like inflation and cost of living estimates to create an even clearer picture.

Of course, there can be many technical decisions to be made, and this is where some investors feel intimidated and fearful. Investment advisors need to be part of your planning strategy for this reason. They know which strategies and tools that can significantly improve your financial outlook – resources you might not have known existed. For example, did you know you may have a significant amount of control over taxes related to investments? An investment advisor can guide you through the process every year to make sure you’re not missing out on earnings and that you’re minimizing your tax liability.

For people who have moved past their fears toward financial planning and their
fear of retirement planning, it’s often after their first visit to an investment advisor that the wheels of change really begin to turn. They suddenly gain an extra team member, one that sheds light on all the fine details and can provide the guidance that proves exceedingly valuable.

As your financial situation changes and as you move closer and closer to your retirement date, your financial advisor will be with you every step of the way to help you make the changes that impact your ability to stay in line with your goals.

When you sit down with an advisor at
Family Investment Center, you’ll be met with an experienced professional whose primary focus is investment management. Our team can help offer you the peace of mind and confidence you may not be able to obtain on your own. Plus, we aren’t commission-driven, but operate on a client-first, fee-only philosophy. Contact us today to get started.

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An Investment Advisor Can Help You Make Year-End Decisions You Didn’t Know Existed

Normal 0 false false false EN-US JA X-NONE From now until the end of the year, and even into the first weeks of 2015, you’re going to see a multitude ofb2ap3_thumbnail_2015-1.jpg year-end lists that include the “best of” for any number of subjects. Use these as a reminder to take a closer look at your investments and decide what decisions you need to make before the year is out.

The most popular reason for making year-end decisions is so that you have the potential to save money on taxes if you make informed choices, which means you should consult with an
investment advisor before the end of the year.

When you talk to your investment advisor you’ll find out that the strategy most people employ is all about timing: getting your timing right on tax planning can give you the option to control how you report your income and claim your credits and deductions. Most advisors will try to work a strategy in which you’ll be taxed less. One note to consider is that if
investment planning decisions are made so that the bulk of your money is going into capital assets, you may have a stronger advantage in timing related to gaining from more lucrative tax rates.

An investment advisor can help you figure out how to use capital gains tax to give you a break on your taxes. For instance, your capital gains and losses get a special tax treatment. If the ordinary income tax rate maxes out at 39.6 percent and capital gains taxes are a maximum of 20 percent, it would make sense to convert your income into long-term capital gain income, which could lower your taxes by 19.6 percent.

Timing is important, but so is recognition of your capital gains. For those in the higher marginal tax bracket this year that foresee a lower one next year, it may be wise to wait on selling assets until you are in that lower bracket. So if you had plans to sell at capital gains before the end of the year, you may want to consider waiting until January.

How did your investments do in 2014? Take a look and try to determine what your capital gains are going to be. Now, look at your capital losses. You can offset your gains with those losses. There is also something called capital loss carry-forwards (up to an annual limit), which you can also use to your advantage. If you have gains that exceed your losses, you can put yourself in a better position by selling property that have built-in losses to offset those gains.

There are any number of situations where an investment advisor can research and identify gains and losses to give you more confidence as the year comes to a close. Don’t wait too long.  Contact
Family Investment Center now and let our team help review your investment portfolio for areas that may need immediate attention.

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Dan Danford Featured Speaks About Math and Anxiety in Wall Street Journal

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Money-1.jpgDan Danford, founder and CEO of Family Investment Center, was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal’s column “Voices,” which features contributions by professional wealth managers. Danford focused on the subject of emotions and money, and the math anxiety people often face when it comes to investments. He notes in the article that many forms of anxiety toward investing are grounded in early math experiences or a lack of knowledge about the tools professional advisors can use. This can result in fear investing and hold many Americans back. 

Humans are inherently emotional, which can be a barrier to making good decisions about finances and investing. Unfortunately, many people don’t take the time to learn finance basics and instead rely on instinct (emotions) to guide them. Keep in mind that many times, making the right decisions involves getting the “big” things right, which starts with having the right emotions when it comes to money.

To overcome and work through
emotions toward money, temper the investment information you get online and through television and magazines with sage advice from people who know about wise investment strategies. Rather than deal with your math anxiety (or investment anxiety) by studying what leaders have to say about investing, start first by looking at where you’re spending your money. Here are some other suggestions:

Is overspending at the root of your math anxiety and impacting your investing? You are likely contributing to the nearly $200 billion (the amount goes up every year and could hit $300 billion by 2016) people spend annually on products bought online. An attachment to things can significantly impact a person’s behaviors and attitudes toward money, and can keep them from moving forward and seeking guidance from a professional investment manager.  

Or…are you holding onto your money in harmful ways? Being overly risk-averse may be at the source of your anxiety toward investing. Instead of putting money to work in stocks and bonds, it could be resting in a savings account that is not growing. When you talk to an investment advisor, you can start to understand that your anxiety about investments can be faced head-on -- and likely will be calmed when you learn more about the professional tools and experience advisors put into each task.

Another form of money anxiety is displayed in the desire to “be everything to everyone.” Some investors face anxiety about providing for children’s futures and even grandchildren, yet they also have very real concerns about their own parents as they age (as well as their own retirement needs). It can be overwhelming, but working with professional tools like Social Security maximization software and other investment calculators can bring clarity and help you with your direction. Professional investment managers are trained in making the most of these tools and can help take some of that anxiety off your plate. (After all, it’s what they do every day!)

Parting ways with your emotions toward money, and instead putting your trust in a professional advisor, can make all the difference to you and your family in 2015. Reach out to our experienced team at
Family Investment Center. We bring nine advanced degrees or certificates to the table and we are focused on your goals (while offering top investment tools and discernment).

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New Year’s Resolution: Choose an Investment Advisory Firm Wisely

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Investing money wisely is not an easy task. If you’re thinking of hiring an advisor in 2015 or making changes to your current one, here’s a reminder of things to avoid and things to look for in your advisor so that you can choose wisely:

·         Don’t be Left With Too Few Options

An investment advisory firm won’t gamble with your money, which means they have a fairly low tolerance for risk. However, are they being too risk averse? Take 401(k) allocations as an example: if your investor is laying out in front of you a short list of options from which to choose, you might not be getting the choices that can make the most money for you. A professional advisor with experience will take into account how many years you have left until retirement and give you options that make the most sense in that context.

·         Investing Shouldn’t Happen Based on Emotions

Even rookie advisors know not to make investments based on emotion, but it still happens on occasion. Unfortunately, some investors stumble with something called “recency bias.” This is a situation where they invest in something that has performed well in the past but lacks any solid indicators of continuing that trend. The assumption is that because of its past performance, it will play out that way indefinitely. (Professional advisors know there are no sure guarantees of predicting the future.) On the other hand, pulling out of investments due to panic could also be detrimental. The key is to keep your adrenaline out of the decision-making process, which is something a good investment advisory firm knows well.

·         Hot Tips are Rarely Hot

Similar to emotional investing, getting geared up over a “hot tip” can lead to failure. Why? Because nobody really knows what’s going to explode on the market. Hot tips have their basis in something other than fact, often from a person who has no real knowledge about safe investing.

·         Don’t Forget About Taxes

A good investment advisory firm knows enough about accounting to keep you out of tax trouble. For instance, many investments you make should have some tax benefits attached to it. However, getting a tax break today might cost you later when you start withdrawing in retirement. Your advisor should ask you what works best for you. Capital gains, both short- and long-term, need to be considered.

·         Know Why You’re Investing

What are your investment goals? Most people are building up a retirement account and want stability. Some are looking for dividends and are willing to take more risk. If you’ve got your eye on an investment, ask your advisor how it fits with your goals. If you’ve been watching a company closely and know they have a quality product that will hit the market soon, you might be ready to place some money in that stock. However, bounce it off your advisor first to make sure the risks aren’t mismatched with your goals.


The professionals at Family Investment Center offer several advanced degrees and certificates to help you move forward. If you’re serious about investing, talk to us today and find out more about our style and our commission-free investing philosophy.

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Investment Advisors Offer 401(k) Tips Everyone Should Know

b2ap3_thumbnail_Retirement-4.jpgYou’ve worked for decades and have established a nice retirement lump of cash in your 401(k). You’re getting close to retirement and you think it might be time to make some changes – but don’t get too jumpy. There are some things to keep in mind before you risk tripping into an investment blooper.

Don’t Make Sweeping Shifts
It’s a common misconception that as you get closer to retirement you need to get out of stocks and bonds. The reality is that if you retire at 65, you’ll likely have at least another 10 years (average life expectancy for males is age 75 and age 81 for women) where you’ll be withdrawing that money for expenses, which means a portion can still be building on itself in stocks and bonds. You aren’t using up your entire retirement savings in one year, so let it keep working for you.

Be Aware of Risk and Risk Aversion
Do you know exactly what the risks are with each one of your investments? People who run into trouble are often the ones that have not clarified the risk associated with their investments.
Investment advisors will tell you that while risk aversion can keep you from some significant gains, jumping into investments without proper guidance can put you in a worse situation come retirement day.

Balancing Social Security and 401(k)
Maybe you’ve considered stopping your pre-tax contribution to your 401(k) so that you’ll see higher benefits in Social Security? This is a popular one for investment “experts” to tout, but you want to think carefully about this. While the 401(k) contribution does lower your income tax, it doesn’t affect your Social Security tax and FICA payments. By this logic, you’d be smarter to put more in your 401(k) as you get closer to retirement.

Talk to Investment Managers
It’s commendable that you’re researching your options as you
plan for retirement. Financial literacy is in short order today. However, there are so many loopholes, pitfalls, and complex situations involved with investments that many successful investors work with investment advisors (they work with other peoples’ money on a regular basis and have an understanding of the changing investment market). They have the knowledge required to keep your nest egg in the right place working for you, and they have more time to devote to it.

The investment advisors at
Family Investment Center are ready to help you look at the changes you need to make as you near your retirement. If you’ve tried the do-it-yourself approach and/or have consulted with commission-based brokers or financial planners and didn’t come away with a winning situation, perhaps it’s time to consider our services. Whether you’re already retired or still working, we offer the solutions that can give you confidence for what tomorrow holds.

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Winning the Game of Life

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Want to Find a Financial Advisor Who Focuses on Investment Management?

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Financial-Advisor-6.jpgToo many Americans today don’t seek out the help of a financial advisor. As a result, their savings typically do very little for them, especially when compared to resources placed with a professional investment advisor. Some people have already made the decision to seek out professional help in this area, but they are simply stuck on how to find a financial advisor. If that’s the case with you, consider a few tips to help you in your search.

1. Trust is Everything
You’re going to put your goals and retirement plans in the hands of someone else. In some cases, it’s a whole team of people. You need to be able to trust that they’ll offer you the best advice, which means you’ll have to do some homework to determine if they are indeed trustworthy. If you’ve got a handful of firms picked out, glance over the bios and try to get a sense of whom these people are. Look at the firm’s track record and try to talk to some former and/or current clients. Also look at their education to find out if they’ve pursued continuing knowledge in the field. (Aside from building competence, it also shows they are passionate about what they do).

2. A Background Check is Certainly an Option
How many complaints have been filed against the firms you’re considering? Look at the nature of each complaint, what was decided and how the firm responded. Court records can be quite revealing, so if you see a pattern of issues that compromise your ability to trust them, walk away. Asking these types of questions in an informational session shouldn’t be awkward; if they’ve got nothing to hide, that will be evident.

3. In What Companies do They Invest
It’s much easier to get a feeling for whether or not an investment firm will be a good match for you if you know where they’re putting investments. Are these well-managed products? Have they shown success in the past? Are they projected to in the foreseeable future? Go in and talk to the advisors about why they making the decisions they make, which is actually the best way to get a true sense of what the firm is about. If they talk over your head or seem in a rush to get you out the door, make it easy for them and don’t go back. An education-based advisor will take the time to explain everything, in as much or as little detail as you prefer.

4. Fee-Based Vs. Commission-Based; There are Differences
You don’t want your investment advisor swayed one way or another because they stand the chance to make a commission based on where they’re investing your money. You need an unbiased opinion when it comes to reaching your financial goals, which is why you want to go with a firm that doesn’t give commissions to advisors based on the products they sell. A
fee-only advisor will likely be your best option. (Note: Some claim to be fee-only, but in reality, it’s only in name. Look for those associated with groups like NAPFA, the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors).

5. The Family Investment Center Difference
If you’re looking for an investment advisor that specializes in large portfolios,
Family Investment Center invites you to come in for a visit or a call and see for yourself what we have to offer. Simple, honest, and direct communication is what our clients have come to expect from us. As a fee-only firm, we’re free from commission-based sales and can fully focus on your goals. We know that many individuals struggle with how to find an investment advisor, and we’re making it easier for many each year.

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Financial Planning: One in Three Avoid Professional Advice (Are You One of Them?)

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Americans love taking the do-it-yourself (DIY) approach. Plenty of reality television programs document the lives of people in the process of DIY projects, some meeting with success and others with failure. When it comes to managing your investments, how smart is it to go the DIY route?

Given the sheer number of investment “experts” offering advice on television, magazines and in books, you’d think there is plenty of information out there to give you a head start on the process. So, you spend a few hours a month reading up on investing, loosely following the market and think you’re ready to jump in with both feet and put all of your money to work for you. It could be a big mistake.

Financial planning is not something most successful investors want to take up as a hobby. It’s something best left to the real experts – the ones who do it for a living. Despite all of your research, you’re probably not capable of watching over your money as well as a professional investment advisor. (According to a survey by Charles Schwab, around 33 percent of people who need investment advice don’t seek it from a professional, so you’re not alone).  But you do have a chance to change the situation, starting now.

Maybe you’re thinking you don’t need financial planning advice because your bank account doesn’t match that of a wealthy person. Not all rich people were born that way. Some of them worked hard for their money and consulted an advisor long before they could be considered wealthy. Financial planning assistance and investment advising services are there for anybody, and it doesn’t have to be overpriced. In fact, a fee-only advisor will work with you on a range of “nest egg” sizes without the added pressure of the advisor working on sales commission.

Maybe you’re thinking you don’t need
financial planning advice because you have a very simple financial situation. Qualified, experienced financial advisors are capable of unleashing a wealth of information, even for people who think their finances are simple. Thinking this way could keep you from realizing your potential as an investor, and it could keep you stuck in some old patterns of thought that aren’t based on reality. A financial planning expert can unlock these complexities for you and they work hard to stay on top of the knowledge to do so.

Once you consult with an investment advisor your work is only just beginning when you sit down for your consultation. You might learn that you need to adjust your spending or saving habits to create a larger window of opportunity when it comes to Social Security benefits later. As you age and your life changes, you’ll need to make adjustments and financial decisions that protect and/or enhance your investments. A financial advisor will be there to provide guidance on your options.

The professionals at
Family Investment Center are investment advisors specializing in large portfolios. Our team knows the process of investment advice can be intimidating, which is why we are careful to fully explain everything and to listen to your needs. We focus on wealth “wellness,” which means your investments can be one part of the total picture of confidence as you look toward your future.

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Collaboration: Wealthy Couples who Make Financial Planning Decisions Know the “C” Word

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There are many benefits to establishing a good line of communication between couples, and being financially more secure is one of them. Most incompatibility issues between couples often are compounded by a lack of communication. It seems that many wealthy American couples have figured that out; nearly seven out of every 10 collaborate on their financial planning decisions, according to a study by Morgan Stanley Wealth Management.

What are Wealthy Couples Doing to Collaborate Financially?


The study, which focused on couples with a net worth of $100,000 or more, found that 66 percent were looking at their retirement and making financial planning decisions together instead of letting just one of the pair make all the decisions. A researcher with the company said the days when only one partner made all the decisions regarding finances is a bygone era.

The study found that 80 percent of those surveyed said their financial advisor was in touch with both partners instead of choosing just one to contact about investment planning. In fact, couples make it easy on the advisor as most said they visit their advisor together. Researchers also said it appears advisors are making it a priority to schedule their consultations when both partners are available.

When couples meet with their advisor, it’s retirement that gets the bulk of the attention. Couples want to talk about and plan having enough money in retirement to enjoy their lives when their careers are completed. The study shows they also want to talk about finances related to health, planning for sudden and serious illness, paying for their grandchildren’s education and seeing their wealth extend into the next generations.

Planning for retirement isn’t something most couples can do alone. They need the assistance of an
investment advisor because there are far too many speed bumps that can put a hitch in the seemingly well-laid plans. Advisors are expertly-trained to handle an assortment of financial topics that can be frustrating for many and slow down progress.
 
After a career of working hard for your savings and your investments, you want them in places where they can do the most good for you. A fee-only investment advisor could be a great option for you and your family. Fee -only advisors don’t work on commission, which means they won’t offer you products you don’t need, and they can take the time to really find out about your individual plans.

At
Family Investment Center, we are a team of fee-only advisors who can work with your assets and help you with a retirement plan. We will walk you through your options and explain the tools that can help you make more confident decisions regarding your financial future. Contact us today and let’s see how a collaborative spirit could open new doors for your future.

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Building Wealth: How the Wealthy Plan for Retirement (and You Can Too)

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More people than ever are approaching the subject of retirement living, as 10,000 individuals a day are turning 65 and would like to retire comfortably. What proactive steps to building wealth can you take now?

There is a book’s worth of lessons learned during the last economic crisis, one of which is that Americans today feel their goals of financial freedom are more unreachable than ever. Despite socking money away for retirement, many feel they’ve gambled and lost, even despite having their money in relatively secure investments.

 

However, there’s another school of thought to consider if you’re thinking of a fresh start toward your investment. Let’s look at the decisions wealthy people are making and how they can impact you:

1. Redefining “Wealthy”
Everybody’s perception of wealth is probably different, but many include a focus on things. People like nice things – big houses, cars, toys, and the ability to eat at a restaurant and never look at prices. While we all have differing opinions of extravagance, independence is the tie that binds. If you can redefine wealth in your mind to be more about independence and
building wealth rather than building possessions, you’ll be thinking like the wealthy.

2. Pay Attention to Retirement Accounts
One of the biggest mistakes Americans make is to wait too late to start a retirement account. Too many have the excuse that they “don’t have enough” to save or invest. Any investment advisor will tell you there is no such thing as too little when it comes to making investments to build wealth for retirement. The people most passionate about their retirement accounts might place a minimum of 15 percent of their income into those investments. What are you currently putting into your retirement account(s)?

3. The Wealthy Say “Yes” to Used
Do you really need to buy a new car every three or four years? Do you really need a new house on a regular basis? The average wealthy person will wait as long as possible before they replace an automobile or any other high-priced item. Learn from the wealthy and consider adopting more frugal ways if you want to get on a path to building wealth.

4. Put Your Money With a Trusted Investment Advisor
It’s really not a splurge to turn to a
professional investment advisor because you could see significant returns when you let a professional guide you toward smart investments. (Wealthy people generally know this; they know they can’t expect an informal analysis of investment products to put them on top.) Advisors like our team at Family Investment Center are full-time professionals, committed to investment management, and extremely diligent at working one-on-one for our clients’ needs in a commission-free setting. If you’re interested in talking about how the wealthy think about investing, contact us today and let’s get started.

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Setting Emotions Aside to Invest Wisely

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National Publications Highlight Investment Management Tips from Dan Danford

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Family Investment Center founder and Chief Executive Officer Dan Danford’s expertise in the investment industry is tapped on a regular basis. Take a look at some of the advice he’s provided to readers of national and regional publications:

1. Keep Your Retirement Plans Flexible
This
U.S. News and World Report article asked Danford for advice on a story about how much money people will need as they live beyond average life expectancy. Financial products will look different than they do now in the coming decades, which is why retirement plans need to remain flexible.

·         "Whether the time frame in which you're retired is 30 or 60 years, things will change," says Dan Danford, CEO of the Family Investment Center, a commission-free investment firm in St. Joseph, Mo. "Retirees need to maintain enough flexibility to adjust when they do. Inflation-adjusted bonds are one good example. They didn't even exist when my father retired in the mid-1980s. Exchange-traded funds are another example. What other helpful new products will come along before 2043? Without flexibility, how can you include new products when they do come along?"


2. Tax Advice for Investments is Essential
Danford points out in a
Medical Economicsarticle that effective tax planning is a must if you don’t want to get hit with surprises come tax season.

 

·         “Effective tax planning is done in real time,” Danford said. “It’s done with a bit of research, good record-keeping and deliberate decision-making. Retirement plans provide a good example. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some are suited to sole proprietors, whereas others to partnerships or corporations. But most require some set-up and adoption before tax year-end. A bit of forethought sends dollars to retirement, not to Uncle Sam.” – February 2012


3. Look at the Bigger Picture When Looking at the Recession’s Impact on Investing
About 70 percent of Americans believe that it is more difficult to get rich now as opposed to before the recession hit. Danford tells the author of a
Bankrate.com article that investors need to look at more recent history than what has happened over the last two decades.

·         “Instead of looking back over the last 20 years,” Danford said, “we look at what happened in the last six months or year, and then project that into the future. If you’ve just been through tough times, then the prevailing attitude is that we’re going to keep going through tough times.” – November 2011

 

4. Look at Several Options for Saving for Kids’ College
In Lost College Savings? So Did First Kids, an article from ABC News, journalists Alice Gomstyn and Emily Friedman discuss 529 plans. Dan Danford, quoted in the article, reminds investors that contributing to a 529 may help your child's chances for financial aid when it comes time to apply to colleges.

 

·         "The government will always take money from your child's accounts before the parents'," said Danford, "which makes it more economical to start a 529 -- which is always in the parents' name or the grandparents' name -- than to set up a regular savings account for your child." – ABC News, April 2009


There’s nothing like demonstrated knowledge and experience when it comes to choosing an investment professional. For more information about Family Investment Center or to read more about our team’s knowledge and expertise, visit www.familyinvestmentcenter.com.

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Financial Planning Advice: Is it Different for Women?

b2ap3_thumbnail_Saving-Money-2.jpgInteresting fact: Women have a life expectancy of about five years longer than their male counterparts, on average. This means a strategy for investing for retirement needs to compensate for those extra years. However, while women may need to plan for a longer life span, research says they have typically been less involved in the investment process than males.

While many women do actively participate in their retirement planning, a higher aversion to risk can mean earning less money on investments by the time retirement arrives. If you’re a woman who doesn’t want to follow some of these traditional patterns that may have set other women back in their retirement goals, financial planning experts offer some advice:

First, consider whether or not you’re thinking about your financial future enough – and if not, are you letting a desire to plan for others’ futures get in the way? Many financial advisors believe that saving for your retirement over investing in your child’s higher education is one example worth talking about. Why? Your college graduate might rather pay for a student loan (most are paid off in 10 years) than pay for your retirement housing and/or senior care because you spent so many years investing in their college fund rather than in your retirement savings.

Even if you don’t buy large-ticket items, you might still be spending (and not investing) more than you know. Many men have a tendency to splurge on big items; however, some women shop in small increments that build up to even larger expenditures. Controlling spending is an important step in financial planning for a better retirement.

If you are married and you are in charge of the budget and bill-paying at your house, you will have more insight into available funds. If you fill this role in your family, you will know how much more you could be adding to your investments. Consider this task as a way of determining how much closer you can get to your goals and this will make it even more rewarding.

A final note … saving versus investing. Certainly saving is a good thing, but are you putting too much into savings and not enough into investments that can grow over time?

Gender aside, starting your retirement investments now and sticking with them can be your greatest ally to a brighter retirement. You can’t be expected to know everything there is to know about investing, which is why bringing a professional investment advisor into the mix is a smart move.

One of our areas of expertise is planning for women at Family Investment Center. Our professional investment advisors may be experienced and credentialed, but they’re also down-to-earth. Contact us today.

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Financial Feud

“Family Feud is an American game show in which two families compete against each other in a contest to name the most popular responses to a survey question posed to 100 people,” according to Wikipedia.org.  Using a similar premise, we have created a game called “Financial Feud”.  This version can be a single-player or multiple-player game.

In our version of Financial Feud, you will be asked a financial question and provided several options for the answer.  From these options, you will choose what you think the top response was from a survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults.  Again, you will guess the response that the majority of the public answered, not necessarily the most correct response.  After all the questions have been asked, we will provide you with the correct responses.  You can also answer the survey questions yourself to see where you rate with the survey participants.

Now that we have explained the game, it’s time to play Financial Feud!  Start by having a pen and paper ready, and make two columns:  One for your guesses on the Financial Feud survey responses, and one for your own answers to the survey questions.

Question 1:  A survey of over 2,000 U.S. adults asked, “How would you grade your personal finance knowledge?”  What letter grade did most people choose?

  • A or B (above average)
  • C (average)
  • D or F (below average)

Question 2:  A survey of over 2,000 U.S. adults asked, “Do you use a budget?”  Which percentage of people answered “YES”?

  • 20%
  • 40%
  • 60%

Question 3:  A survey of over 2,000 U.S. adults asked, “Do you carry credit card debt from month to month?”  Which percentage of people answered “YES”?

  • 15%
  • 35%
  • 65%

Question 4:  A survey of over 2,000 U.S. adults asked, “Do you carry $2,500 or more in credit card debt from month to month?”  Which percentage of people answered “YES”?

  • 15%
  • 25%
  • 35%

Question 5:  A survey of over 2,000 U.S. adults asked, “Do you believe you have a sufficient amount in your emergency fund?”  Which percentage of people answered “YES”?

  • 45%
  • 65%
  • 85%

Question 6:  A survey of over 2,000 U.S. adults asked, “Do you believe you will have enough money during retirement?”  Which percentage of people answered “YES”?

  • 45%
  • 65%
  • 85%

Question 7:  A survey of over 2,000 U.S. adults asked, “Do you plan to spend less than you did last year?”  Which percentage of people answered “YES”?

  • 30%
  • 50%
  • 80%

Question 8:  A survey of over 2,000 U.S. adults asked, “Do you plan to save/invest the same amount this year as last year?”  Which percentage of people answered “YES”?

  • 30%
  • 50%
  • 80%

Question 9:  A survey of over 2,000 U.S. adults asked, “If you are having financial problems related to debt, where do you turn first?”  Who/what did most people choose?

  • The Internet
  • Friends and Family
  • Professional Services

Question 10:  A survey of over 2,000 U.S. adults asked, “Do you believe you could benefit from advice and answers to everyday financial questions from a professional?”  Which percentage of people answered “YES”?

  • 25%
  • 50%
  • 75%

 

Answers: 1) A or B   2) 40%   3) 35%   4) 15%   5) 85%   6) 85%   7) 30%   8) 50%   9) Friends and Family  10) 75%

 

Survey source: “The 2014 Consumer Financial Literacy Survey” as prepared by Harris Poll for The National Foundation for Credit Counseling

 

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Choosing a Financial Advisor: It Doesn’t Have to be Complicated

b2ap3_thumbnail_Millionaire-1.jpgThere are plenty of “experts” out there willing to provide you with costly advice or sell you a book about where to put your money. These “experts” make bold statements that rarely work out, yet many people hang on their every word. Television personalities, radio talk show hosts, and numerous magazines are available to offer advice on choosing a financial advisor, yet the advice offered is often less than helpful.

Many people may join the “investment game” because they are feeding off of a rush, which could feel similar to gambling. However, investing in its truest sense is not a game at all, and most investment advisors are aware of this above anything else. Certainly, reward comes with some level of risk, but balancing the risk with reward to help you achieve your goals is where an investment advisor’s area of expertise comes into play.

When you finally decide that maximizing your hard-earned money is much more than an investment game, it’s time to work with a financial advisor to assist your decision-making.
Choosing a financial advisor takes a little homework, a little research, and a touch of interviewing. Here are some tips to consider when choosing a financial advisor.

Your first option might be to make a list after talking to your peers about who they choose as their advisor, and then do your homework. Start a list of professionals suggested by friends and/or family, then start crossing off. Research advisors’ credentials to gain perspective on their financial planning knowledge and scope. To do more research about fee-only professionals in your area, check with an organization such as the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA). A NAPFA advisor search will yield only fee-only advisors in your area.

Mark off the advisors who try to guide you into making decisions that are only good for their commission, but aren’t so good for your financial wellbeing. Be careful, because there are many advisors who work in this capacity. Sometimes their guidance works, but sometimes it doesn’t.
One of the biggest downsides for commissioned salespeople is that they must use products offering commissions. It’s a limited palette of investment options because some of the best stuff today is commission-less. No-load mutual funds, ETFs, and even discount brokerage products aren’t available through commissioned salespeople.
Instead, when choosing a financial advisor, consider one that is truly
fee-only. This will help to ensure that they remain completely objective when it comes to guiding you in one direction or another, and they are truly interested in growing your investments.

Once you have your list whittled down to just a few advisors, examine their records.
Have they ever been convicted of a crime? Has a regulatory body ever put them under investigation? If the answer is yes to either, walk away. This is also a good time to ask for a casual, sit-down interview where you determine if their philosophies and their personalities are a good fit for you.


We hope your list, when all is said and done, will lead you to us here at
Family Investment Center.  We are fee-only professionals who are ready to help you plan your financial future. We are also able to help anyone in your family, from children planning for college to senior citizens with questions about their Social Security benefits. Call us today and find out how we can assist.

 

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